Article Highlights

  • STOXX 600 up 0.2 pct
  • Renault gains after update
  • BHP up, BP down after shale deal
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European stocks inched up in morning trading on Friday and were set to end the week at six-week highs, helped by an easing of fears over U.S tariffs and good company results.

Shares in consumer goods company Reckitt Benckiser, construction groups Saint Gobain and Vinci, BT and bank BBVA rose following well-received results, lifting the pan-European STOXX 600 benchmark up 0.17 percent by 0856 GMT.

“On average earnings updates are quite good,” said Jerome Schupp, fund manager at Geneva-based investment firm Prime Partners. “The message about the second half is also reassuring given the uncertainties regarding trade wars.”

According to Deutsche Bank, European second-quarter EPS growth has accelerated to 6 percent from 0 percent in the first, a result they said was good given the deterioration in euro area growth momentum seen in the period.

Hopes of a breakthrough in U.S.-EU trade talks lifted the STOXX to its highest level since mid-June on Thursday as carmakers, which rely on exports for growth, rose sharply. The index was on track to end the week up 1.4 percent.

Investors however kept a degree of caution.

The U.S. Commerce Department will continue its probe into whether auto imports pose a national security risk despite ongoing trade talks with the EU, but U.S. President Donald Trump asked that no action be taken at this time, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said on Thursday.

Autos were little changed Friday.

Renault rose 1.4 percent after a volatile start as the French carmaker achieved record profitability in the first half as emerging market sales surged.

“Results came in line with a modest headline beat and better net liquidity but details of margin development and capital intensity are mixed and likely to keep pressure on margins,” Jefferies analysts said in a note.

Shares in German carmakers BMW and Daimler , which are heavily exposed to the U.S. market, however slipped slightly.

Mining company BHP Billiton rose 3.7 percent after BP agreed to buy its U.S. shale oil and gas assets for $10.5 billion. BP shares fell 1 percent.

“The shale deal presents a promising opportunity for BP to reverse many years of underinvestment,” said Accendo Markets Artjom analyst Artjom Hatsaturjants.

“Still, it comes at a price of a short-term hit to shareholder value and would divide those investors looking for a quick profit from rising oil prices and those who see a long-term opportunity in holding Energy stocks,” he added.