Europe midday: Stocks push higher amid lessened trade pessimism
Stocks are moving higher, buoyed by reports of further progress in US-China trade talks and following the previous night's vote in the UK parliament to postpone the country's exit from the European Union in order to allow for a smooth withdrawal.
There were also some positive comments to be heard on the outlook from some of the top equity strategists.
Against that backdrop of 1146 GMT, the benchmark Stoxx 600 was up by 0.58% at 380.73, alongside a rise of 0.87% to 11,688.49 for the German Dax and a gain of 0.97% to 21,079.08 on the FTSE Mibtel 30.
Overnight, China's state-owned news agency, Xinhua, reported that Chinese Vice Premier Liu, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer made "further substantive progress" on trade talks in a telephone conversation held on Thursday.
Meanwhile, Credit Suisse's equity strategy team on Friday upped their recommendation for shares of European cyclicals relative to defensives from 'benchmark' to 'overweight'.
The investment bank argued that European Purchasing Managers' Indices and 'growth pessimism' had hit a bottom even as China appeared to be stabilising.
As well, global PMIs had reached levels at which they had also troughed in the past.
Regarding Brexit, on Thursday evening Parliament voted by a landslide to vote for an extension to Article 50 and, implicitly, for another vote on Prime Minister Theresa May's withdrawal bill, likely on 19 March.
Nevertheless, it remained to be seen whether the 27 remaining EU capital would grant Britain that breathing space and what conditions they might attach.
Economic news was otherwise quite light at the end of the week, although Eurostat did confirm an earlier estimate for the single currency bloc's harmonised CPI covering the month of February, which it said had printed at up by 0.3% on the month and by 1.5% on the year.