FRANKFURT, Jan 16 ― European shares ended flat yesterday as investors held back from making any big bets ahead of the signing of a Phase 1 trade deal between the United States and China.
The pan-European STOXX 600 index closed 0.01 per cent higher after remaining range-bound for most of the day.
Defensive plays led gains, with the utilities, healthcare and food and beverage sectors outperforming.
US President Donald Trump and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He signed an initial trade deal yesterday that will roll back some tariffs and see China boost purchases of US goods and services.
The pact is expected to help defuse an 18-month conflict between the United States and China, the world's two largest economies. The fine print on the deal is yet to be published.
“Clearly markets are waiting for the details of the Phase 1 deal,” said Teeuwe Mevissen, senior market economist at Rabobank.
“Indeed, if you look at markets right now, they are really taking a wait-and-see approach. Looking ahead, the focus will slowly shift towards trade relations between the US and the EU.”
Talks between EU and US trade representatives in Washington this week will be in the spotlight, given the strained relations between the two over US tariffs and aircraft subsidy disputes.
Dutch semiconductor supplier ASM International jumped 8.6 per cent, to the top of the STOXX 600, hitting a record high after it reported a strong fourth-quarter order intake.
Automobile stocks were the worst performers in the euro zone, shedding 1.7 per cent.
German car parts maker Hella GMBH extended losses to a second session after it posted lower first-half earnings and warned that a strong market recovery was unlikely.
Germany's main stock index fell about 0.2 per cent after the EU's biggest economy marked a GDP growth of 0.6 per cent in 2019, the weakest expansion rate since 2013. ― Reuters