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European Markets Extend Gains On Continued Trade Optimism

The European markets finished higher Wednesday, adding to their gains from the previous session. The markets continue to benefit from optimism about a potential trade deal between the U.S. and China, after talks between U.S. and Chinese officials were extended to a third day.

The trade deal optimism helped investors to shrug off some disappointing trade data from Germany.

The pan-European Stoxx Europe 600 index advanced 0.54 percent. The Euro Stoxx 50 index of eurozone blue chip stocks increased 0.52 percent, while the Stoxx Europe 50 index, which includes some major U.K. companies, added 0.20 percent.

The DAX of Germany climbed 0.83 percent and the CAC of France rose 0.84 percent. The FTSE 100 of the U.K. gained 0.66 percent and the SMI of Switzerland finished higher by 0.67 percent.

In Frankfurt, BASF advanced 0.17 percent. As per an article published in Reuters, the chemical company is in the process of finding a buyer for its plastics business to salvage the pending deal with Solvay's polyamide business.

In Paris, Airbus rallied 3.50 percent. The aircraft manufacturer confirmed that it achieved 800 commercial aircraft deliveries in 2018, subject to the finalization of the auditing process.

In London, Taylor Wimpey surged 6.16 percent. After a positive trading update, the company said it remains committed to returning 600 million pounds to shareholders by way of total dividend in 2019. Rival Persimmon climbed 4.6 percent.

Fashion chain Ted Baker jumped 28.84 percent. The company reported over 12 percent growth in retail sales for the five-week period from December 2, 2018 to January 5, 2019 and said its results for the 52 weeks ending 26 January 2019 will be in line with expectations.

Eurozone unemployment rate unexpectedly eased in November to its lowest level in more than a decade, figures from Eurostat showed on Wednesday. The seasonally adjusted jobless rate eased to 7.9 percent from 8 percent in October. Economists had expected the rate to remain unchanged.

Germany's merchandise trade surplus grew in November to its biggest level in five months as imports fell unexpectedly, and exports decreased, giving further evidence of a slowdown in the biggest euro area economy.

The non-adjusted trade surplus grew to EUR 20.5 billion from EUR 18.9 billion in October, preliminary data from the Federal Statistical Office showed on Wednesday. Economists had expected a surplus of EUR 18.6 billion.

Exports fell a seasonally and calendar adjusted 0.4 percent month-on-month following a 0.9 percent rise in October. Economists had forecast a 0.5 percent decline. The latest fall was the biggest in four months.

Imports decreased a seasonally adjusted 1.6 percent from the previous month after a 0.8 percent increase in October. Economists had expected imports to remain unchanged.

France's consumer confidence fell sharply in December to its lowest level since late 2014, survey data from INSEE showed on Wednesday.

The consumer confidence dropped to 87 from 91 in November. The latest reading was the lowest since November 2014. Economists were looking for a score of 90.

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