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European Shares Advance As US, China Begin Trade Talks


European stocks were broadly higher on Thursday as Chinese trade data beat expectations and optimism prevailed that the U.S. and China might reach an agreement in trade talks.

Negotiators from China and the United States have begun senior-level talks in Beijing aimed at ending their trade conflict.

U.S. President Donald Trump said earlier that he is open to extending a March 1 deadline to raise tariffs on Chinese products if the two sides are near an agreement.

The pan European Stoxx 600 was up 0.3 percent at 366.13 in opening deals after rising 0.6 percent in the previous session.

The German DAX was marginally higher, France's CAC 40 index was moving up 0.4 percent and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 was rising 0.2 percent.

Swiss nutrition, health and wellness giant Nestle advanced 2.6 percent after reporting an uptick in sales momentum for the first time in seven years.

Banking giant Credit Suisse dropped 1.6 percent despite reporting its first annual profit in four years.

Dutch insurer Aegon slumped 5 percent after its net profit fell 83 percent in the second half of 2018.

Restaurant Group slumped 11 percent in London. The company's CEO Andy McCue is leaving the firm due to extenuating personal circumstances.

Drugmaker AstraZeneca rallied 4.5 percent after it forecast a second straight year of sales growth.

Investment manager Ashmore Group fell almost 7 percent on reporting a 6 percent fall in first-half pretax profit.

French energy management firm Schneider Electric soared almost 6 percent after announcing a new share buyback program.

Automaker Renault advanced 2.5 percent after its board blocked payouts worth 10 million euros to ex-CEO Carlos Ghosn.

German lender Commerzbank rose 2.5 percent after its fourth-quarter profit jumped 51 percent amid a major overhaul.

In economic releases, Germany's economy stagnated in the fourth quarter of 2018 to avoid a technical recession, preliminary data from the Federal Statistical Office showed.

GDP came in unchanged from the third quarter, when the economy contracted 0.2 percent. Economists were looking for a modest increase of 0.1 percent.

The euro traded mixed ahead of Eurozone GDP and employment data, due later in the day.

Investors also looked ahead to another Brexit vote in Parliament on the Prime Minister's EU withdrawal stance.

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