European stocks were mixed Friday as the market kept a keen eye on the U.S. dollar prior to U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May's meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump, and took a breather from this season's quarterly corporate earnings.
Investor focus is on whether PM May's meeting with President Trump will bring out some trade details prior to the U.K. entering Brexit negotiations with Brussels. On Thursday, May said that while the U.K. would not return to foreign military interventions, it would also uphold its values against the likes of Russia, India and China.
The market is also bracing for the Bank of England's interest rate decision next Thursday. The European Central Bank said Friday that corporate lending increased at the fastest pace in four and a half years last month as banks took advantage of record low rates and robust liquidity to pump money into the real economy.
Britain's FTSE 100 was the sole gainer among the major benchmarks, rising 0.32% to 7,184.49, thanks in part to a solid 9% surge for Tesco (TSCDY) after its £3.7 billion purchase of food wholesaler Booker (BOKGY) , which owns grocery chains such as Londis and Budgens. Tesco, Britain's biggest grocery store chain, will pay the equivalent of 205.3 pence per Booker share, a premium of 12% to the Thursday closing price of 183.1 pence each. Booker spiked 16% to 211.96 pence each.
Germany's DAX fell 0.3% while France's CAC 40 traded 0.6% lower at 4,839.98 points.
In Frankfurt, Volkswagen (VLKAY) led German stocks lower as automakers fell sharply in the wake of U.S. President Donald Trump's ongoing trade rhetoric with Mexico. VW dropped 1.7%, while Daimler (DDAIY) fell 1.2%, and BMW declined 0.8%.
In Paris, LVMH (LVMUY) hit an all-time high at one point after reporting record earnings for fiscal 2016. The owner of the Louis Vuitton and Christian Dior brands attributed the strong results to its wines and spirits business across all regions, and said it expects the robust momentum to continue in 2017. Shares closed down 2%.
Publicis (PUBGY) rose 0.8% after the world's third-largest advertising company named its first new CEO in three decades. The owner of the Saatchi & Saatchi and Bartle Bogle Hegarty agencies said Arthur Sadoun will replace Maurice Levy as chairman and CEO, effective June 1.
Switzerland's SMI, a normally defensive index that often trades inversely to the major European benchmarks, was also lower Friday, falling 0.3% on the back of a 4.5% decline for UBS (UBS) - Get Free Report. The world's biggest wealth manager posted better-than-expected fourth quarter earnings of €0.19 per share on a fully diluted basis, just ahead of the €0.17 total forecast by analysts but down around 32% from the same period in 2015. It also said an improved outlook in the United States could support growth in the bank's wealth management business, but larger-than-expected client outflows look to have worried investors.