European Equity Benchmarks Close Sharply Higher as Trade War Fears Subside

The broad-based major European indices closed sharply higher in Thursday’s trading session, as investors’ fears of a trade war between the US and China have subsided for now. Oil stocks, mining companies, and banks were the big gainers.

In economic news, the seasonally adjusted volume of retail trade increased by 0.1% in the euro area (EA19) and by 0.2% in the EU28 in February, compared with January, according to Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. Compared with February of 2017, the calendar adjusted retail sales index increased by 1.8% in the euro area and by 2.0% in the EU28.

Eurostat also reported that industrial producer prices rose by 0.1% in the euro area (EA19) and remained stable in the EU28 in February, compared with January. Compared with February of 2017, industrial producer prices rose by 1.6% in the euro area and by 1.8% in the EU28.

In the UK, gross domestic product (GDP) per head grew by 0.8% in real terms in Q4 of 2017, compared with the same quarter a year earlier, according to the Office of National Statistics’ (ONS) economic well-being report. Real household disposable income (RHDI) per head increased by 1.0%; the first quarter that RHDI per head has increased on an annual basis since Q1 of 2016.

Net national disposable income per head, which accounts for the depreciation of assets and the UK’s foreign income balance, increased by 2.1%, due mainly to a GBP4.8 billion ($6.72 billion) increase in the balance of income received from the UK’s foreign direct investment from abroad.

However, ONS said that for the first time in more than two years, consumers reported a worsening of their perception of their own financial situation for three consecutive quarters. In Q4 of 2017, the average aggregate balance was negative 1.6, a decrease from positive 0.7 recorded in Q4 of 2016.

The gap in net household property wealth in the UK between those aged 30 to 32 and 60 to 62 years has widened in the last 10 years. The net household property wealth of those aged 60 to 62 years was six times that of those aged 30 to 32 years during July 2006 to June 2016, which surged to 17 times by July 2014 to June 2016.

Meanwhile, new car sales plunged 15.7% in March in the UK, compared with the same month last year, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). Despite the decline, SMMT said registrations are still running at a historically high level.

In Germany, the Federal Statistical Office (Destatis) reports that price-adjusted new orders in manufacturing had increased in February 2018 a seasonally and calendar adjusted 0.3% on the previous month. For January 2018, revision of the preliminary outcome resulted in a decrease of 3.5% compared with December 2017 (primary –3.9%). Price-adjusted new orders without major orders in manufacturing had decreased in February 2018 a seasonally and calendar adjusted –0.7% on the previous month.

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