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Rising optimism on trade helps European shares higher as results come in

Sage sinks after revenue guidance cut.

Budding optimism on global trade helped European shares advance on Friday although a turn lower on Wall Street after disappointing earnings cut some of the market’s earlier gains.

The STOXX 600 held near one-month highs, ending the day up 0.1%.

Germany’s DAX, highly sensitive to trade and China, gained 0.2% after US President Trump made comments indicating he would want to avoid a Sino-US trade war and rejoin the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade pact.

“Markets have given cautious welcome to this news. Welcome, because avoiding a trade war is a clear economic positive. Cautious, because market trust in US presidential announcements is, perhaps, a little limited,” said UBS Wealth Management chief economist Paul Donovan.

European shares sealed their third straight week of gains, their longest winning streak since January.

Investors have begun to shrug off geopolitical concerns to focus instead on a results season expected to support equity markets.

Much-anticipated results from JP Morgan disappointed, however, sending US stocks lower and weighing on European markets. The bank’s shares fell 1.7% and hit the S&P 500 banks index.

In Europe the first trickle of corporate results was largely positive, though misses were badly punished.

Shares in British software firm Sage sank 19%, the biggest decline on the STOXX, after the company cut its full-year revenue guidance as software subscription growth slowed in the first half.

On the other hand, Finnish paper maker Stora Enso gained 3.6% after reporting stronger than expected first-quarter results.

Cosmetics giant L’Oreal reported a strong sales beat thanks to good performance from China and luxury cosmetics.

“L’Oreal reported a much stronger-than-expected start to the year as first-quarter, like-for-like sales growth of +6.8% came in well ahead of DB and consensus (forecasts), undoubtedly making L’Oreal best-in-class among its European HPC (and staples) peers,” Deutsche Bank analysts wrote in a note.

But the shares came back after touching a five-month high in early deals, and closed just 0.2% higher. Traders put the muted reaction down to technical selling and profit-taking.

M&A news continued to be a key driver.

Klepierre shares rose 3.6% after the French commercial real estate firm said it had dropped a bid for Hammerson and would not pursue a takeover of the UK firm.

“Klepierre throws in the towel,” wrote Stifel analysts, adding that they did not see a different potential bidder for Hammerson.

Hammerson’s shares meanwhile dropped 9% to trade at 452.7 pence, erasing nearly all the gains the stock had made after Klepierre’s first takeover bid on March 19.

Biotech firm Galapagos rose 4.2% after saying its Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis drug was moving into phase III trials.

Overall mining and industrial stocks were the best-performing, enjoying a boost from metals prices which surged higher this week after sanctions on Russian aluminium firm Rusal.

Investors looked ahead to a flurry of results next week to ground stock prices, as sentiment has turned sour on European equities recently.

Investors pulled $5.2 billion from European equity funds this week, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch, the biggest outflows since July 2016.

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