European stocks near record highs, Italy outperforms – Metro US

European stocks near record highs, Italy outperforms

European stocks near record highs, Italy outperforms
By Sruthi Shankar

By Sruthi Shankar

LONDON (Reuters) – European stocks rose on Friday, as Italian shares outperformed on positive company updates, although trading volumes thinned going into the Christmas holiday.

The pan-European STOXX 600 <.STOXX> rose 0.2%, on course to gain for a second week and about 1 percent below record highs.

That followed record-setting gains for Wall Street on Thursday after U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said an initial U.S.-China trade deal would be signed in early January.

“2019 was a year dominated by the U.S.-China trade war and Brexit and at least in the near term, we seem to have wrapped up on those two fronts,” David Madden, market analyst at CMC Markets in London.

Milan-listed shares <.FTMIB> outperformed with an 0.6% rise, boosted by Italy’s biggest utility, Enel . Its shares rose 1% after Moody’s improved its outlook on the Latin American unit Enel Americas to positive.

Payments group Nexi gained 0.7% after Intesa SanPaolo said it was selling its retailers’ payment business to Nexi in a 1 billion-euro ($1.1 billion) deal.

Germany’s DAX <.GDAXI> and France’s CAC <.FCHI> gained about 0.2%.

London’s exporter-heavy FTSE 100 <.FTSE> was flat as the pound recovered after a tumultuous run on fears of a hard Brexit. [GBP/]

The final reading on Britain’s third quarter growth showed the economy grew a little faster than first estimated and the country’s current account deficit shrank to its smallest since 2012.

The British parliament is set to vote on UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Brexit withdrawal agreement bill. The Johnson government’s majority in parliament means the bill should pass easily.

Among individual stocks, Royal Dutch Shell slipped 0.8% after saying it expects impairment charges of up to $2.3 billion in the fourth quarter.

Adidas was down 0.4% after Nike reported disappointing growth in North America, its biggest market.

(Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in London; editing by Larry King)

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