European Shares Steady as Trade Talks Advance; Barclays Jumps

(Bloomberg) -- European stocks fluctuated between gains and losses at Thursday’s open as optimism over trade talks was countered by a spat over coal imports between Australia and China. Barclays shares jumped as the British lender announced a buyback plan.

The Stoxx 600 Index was steady, after gaining 0.7 percent on Wednesday. Basic resources and travel stocks led declines, while real estate and utilities shares advanced the most. The oil & gas sector weakened, dragged down by TechnipFMC Plc, which fell as much as 10 percent after reporting an unexpected loss. Telefonica SA rose after fourth-quarter results beat analyst estimates and the Spanish phone carrier sold some assets in Central America.

Trade talks between the U.S. and China remain in focus as negotiators are said to be working on memorandums of understanding that would form the basis of a final deal. Optimism was countered by a report that China’s Dalian port banned coal imports from Australia.

“As the end of the month is upon us, we should see advances in some of the political issues affecting markets such as the trade tension or Brexit,” said Diego Fernandez, chief investment officer at A&G Banca Privada in Madrid. “The macroeconomic environment has worsened considerably and corporates’ guidance is not being very encouraging.”

European Shares Steady as Trade Talks Advance; Barclays Jumps

Investor attention will later turn to PMI and unemployment data in the U.S.

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