(Reuters) - Euro zone stock markets charged higher on Thursday, as optimism over U.S.-China trade talks, positive corporate updates and a rally in banking shares brightened the mood in Europe even as London stocks went in the opposite direction.
A surge in tariff-sensitive shares of tech firms, automakers and energy companies drove an index of euro zone stocks .STOXXE 1.0% higher at the close, compared with a 0.7% rise in the broader European stock index .
News that Beijing and Washington officials agreed to hold high-level trade talks in early October raised hopes of progress in their negotiations even as both sides fired tariffs on each others’ goods last month.
Britain's FTSE 100 .FTSE was a weak spot, falling -0.6% as several large-cap names traded ex-dividend and exporters on the index took a hit from a surge in sterling. [.L]
Investors have cheered political developments this week, with the formation of a new government in Italy and the UK parliament’s battle to avert a no-deal Brexit lifting the STOXX 600 to a fresh one-month high.
“The bullish theme seen elsewhere comes off the back of an improved outlook for US-China talks, which are planned for October,” Joshua Mahony, senior market analyst at IG, wrote in a client note.
“However, we have seen this all before, so there is a strong chance that market scepticism kicks in to limit these gains.”
Automakers and parts suppliers index .SXAP led gains on the main index with a 2.9% jump to record its biggest percentage gain since July 23.
Banking shares .SX7P also rose more than a percent for a second day as eurozone bond yields rose in the wake of strong U.S. private data and comments this week by ECB officials playing down the need for aggressive stimulus at next Thursday’s policy meeting.
French engine maker Safran (SAF.PA) gained 5.1% after the company raised its full-year profit forecast, while Dassault Aviation (AVMD.PA) rose 5.7% after the maker of Rafale warplanes and Falcon business jets affirmed its view of higher net sales in 2019.
Together they helped drive a 1.4% increase in the industrial goods and services .SXNP sector.
Shares in Thyssenkrupp AG (TKAG.DE) tacked on 6.2% on a report that Finland’s Kone (KNEBV.HE) was considering teaming up with a private equity partner to pull off a bid for the German conglomerate’s elevator business.
The gains came despite news the company is set to drop out of Germany’s benchmark GDAXI index this month.
Norwegian shares .OSEAX got a boost from a 7.5% jump in Equinor's shares (EQNR.OL) after the oil firm launched a $5 billion share buyback and said its Johan Sverdrup oilfield will come on stream in October, a month earlier than planned.
Reporting by Sruthi Shankar and Medha Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne