European stocks rise, with U.S. futures mixed on virus news and spending spat between Fed and Treasury

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EUROPE MARKETS

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European stocks rose on Friday, while U.S. equity futures were mixed as investors weighed up a mix of coronavirus updates and a rift between the U.S. Treasury and Federal Reserve over ending emergency lending programs.

Adding to earlier gains, the Stoxx Europe 600 index rose 0.7% to 390.29 for a 1.3% weekly gain. The German DAX rose 0.5%, the French CAC 40 was up 0.8%, and the FTSE 100 rose 0.7%. The euro slipped 0.2% to $1.1854.

Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 futures were modestly lower, while Nasdaq-100 futures gained slightly. U.S. stocks shifted into positive territory in the final hours of trading on Thursday, amid fresh fiscal stimulus hopes.

Some stimulus-deal optimism was dented after Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Thursday declined to extend emergency loan programs that were set up with the Fed and due to expire at the end of the year. The Fed voiced its objection in a statement that followed, displaying a rare public rift between the two.

Mnuchin also asked the Fed to return the unused funds to the Treasury so that they could be reappropriated.

The disagreement comes as the U.S. battles out-of-control infection rates, with California imposing a new curfew, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has advised against travel for next week’s Thanksgiving holiday.

Video: Wall Street closes lower as shutdown worries loom (Reuters)

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In a setback for virus treatments, a World Health Organization panel recommended against doctors using biotech Gilead Sciences’ drug remdesivir to treat coronavirus patients, saying it “has no meaningful effect on mortality or on other important outcomes.”

There was some upbeat news for Europe, though, after European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Thursday that drugmaker Pfizer and partner BioNTech and biotech Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine candidates could receive conditional marketing authorization by mid December.

And Reuters reported that the EU could pay over $10 billion to buy doses of vaccines from Pfizer and BioNTech and German biopharmaceutical CureVac

Still, Hans Kluge, the WHO’s Europe director, warned on Thursday that the continent faces a difficult six months ahead, with the region accounting for 28% of global cases and 26% of deaths. That is as EU leaders failed to progress on a mega stimulus package on Thursday that has been stalled due to a veto by Poland and Hungary.

And Brexit trade talks were suspended for a “short period” after a member of EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier’s team tested positive for COVID-19.  

On the data front, retail sales in the U.K. rose in October for the sixth consecutive month, despite a surge in infections.

Among stocks on the move, shares of Sage Group tumbled 11% after mixed results from the multinational enterprise software group.

“Despite strong revs growth, higher investments and £17 million of bad debt provisioning has invariably resulted in a weaker performance in org. operating profit,” said a team of analysts at Jefferies led by Paul Kratz, in a note to clients.

Shares of Smurfit Kapp 3%. The U.K.-based paper and packaging company said it has raised €660 million ($783.7 million) in a share placing to accelerate investment.

Major oil companies provided support for the main Europe index, with shares of Total and Royal Dutch Shell rising over 1%, as crude oil prices rose modestly on Friday.

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