European markets look set to close out the week in positive territory Friday, boosted by a combination of solid corporate earnings, mergers and acquisitions reports and continued central bank support.
The Stoxx 600 index, the region's broadest benchmark, slipped 0.01% in Friday trading but will likely post a five-day gain of around 1.1%. Germany's DAX index will also end the week on a positive note after Friday's 0.09% advance, as will its bluechip counterpart in Paris, the CAC 40, which fell 0.09% on the session but added 1.16%.
Britain's FTSE 100 index, however, was essentially unchanged for the week as investors continue to count the cost of the country's exit from the European Union and book some profit on oil and basic resource stocks.
A flurry of M&A news dominated Friday trading in Europe, led by British American Tobacco's (BATS) $47 billion takeover bid for Reynolds American.
BAT wants to pay $56.50 per share for the 57.8% stake it does not already own in the Winston Salem, N.C. group, creating what it claims will be a leading position in the U.S. tobacco market. Reynolds acknowledged having received the bid and said its board "consistent with their fiduciary duties, will evaluate the offer from BAT and respond accordingly."
BAT shares were down around 3.13% in London late Friday, having touched an all-time high of £5 each immediately following news of the bid.
The move appears to follow a post from a financial news website, Betaville, which published a note that said handbag maker Coach is working with Evercore on a $20 billion tie-up. No sources were cited in the note, however, and representatives from Burberry were not immediately available to comment when contacted by TheStreet.
Shares in Burberry were last seen at 1,481 pence each, up 2.07% from Thursday's close and one of the FTSE's top gainer's. Coach shares rose 3.8% in pre-market trading in New York to $37.29 per share but fell on the open, in-line with benchmark indices, to $35.70 by late afternoon in London.
Two other important movers in Europe, both from Germany, were Daimler (DDAIY) and SAP (SAP) - Get Reportwith shares in Europe's luxury carmaker fell 2.2% the bottom of the DAX index after the group posted better-than-expected third quarter results on the back of solid passenger car sales, but stuck to its full-year profit forecast and trimmed its sales expectations.
In the other direction, shares in SAP, however, extended gains Friday, rising 2.5% to the top of the DAX after modestly lifting its full-year profit guidance following a third quarter earnings update the slightly missed analysts's expectations. However, strong growth in software liscensing sales allowed the software group to edge its full-year operating profit guidance to between €6.5 billion and €6.7 billion.
Away from equities, but connected nonetheless to the weekly gains, the European single currency fell to its lowest level against the U.S. dollar since early March, trading at 1.0881 after European Central Bank President Mario Draghi revealed no changes to the Bank's current package of low rates and quantitative easing at Thursday's policy meeting in Frankfurt.
The pound was also active in the Friday session, falling to as low as 1.2195 against the greenback fore paring those losses to 1.2219 amid Theresa May's first EU Summit in Brussels as U.K. Prime Minister.
Reports that May had angered her European counterparts, however, by insisting that Britain play a key role in decision-making ahead of its theoretical 2019 departure did little to ease investor concern that the country's efforts to negotiate a favorable trade deal will be fraught with political tensions.