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European Markets Close Higher On Vaccine Hopes

European stocks ended higher on Friday as rising hopes around vaccines offset concerns over rising Covid-19 cases and uncertainty about a fiscal stimulus in the U.S.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen stated that COVID-19 vaccines could be approved before the end of the year. Data from the mid-stage trial of AstraZeneca PLC and Oxford University's coronavirus vaccine candidate produced a strong immune response in older adults.

The International Monetary Fund, ahead of the upcoming G20 leaders' virtual meeting this week, says the economic path ahead remains difficult and prone to setbacks.

The pan European Stoxx 600 advanced 0.52%. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 moved up 0.27%, Germany's DAX and France's CAC 40 both ended higher by 0.39%, and Switzerland's SMI edged up 0.05%.

Among other markets in Europe, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and Turkey ended with sharp to moderate gains.

Russia edged up marginally. Iceland closed weak, while Austria and Greece ended flat.

In the UK market, AstraZeneca shares rose sharply after the company reported positive covid vaccine development news. Further, Imfinzi (durvalumab) has been approved in the US for an additional dosing option, a 1,500mg fixed dose every four weeks, in the approved indications of unresectable Stage III non-small cell lung cancer.

Antofagasta, Avast, JD Sports Fashion, BAE Systems, Smiths Group, Glencore, Spirax-Sarco Engineering, B&M and Bunzl gained 2 to 3.5%. IAG, Royal Dutch Shell, Fresnillo, Intertek Group and Scottish Mortgage also ended sharply higher.

Sage Group shares tumbled more than 13% after the company reported weak revenues in its fiscal 2020, despite higher profit. The company also raised its dividend and said it sees higher organic revenue growth in the next year.

BT Group, Johnson Matthey, Kingfisher and Informa lost 2 to 4.5%.

In Germany, Thyssenkrupp gained more than 3.5%. Bayer and RWE ended higher by nearly 3%, while Merck and Infineon Technologies both closed higher by about 1%.

In the French market, Atos and STMicroElectronics both gained over 2.5%. Veolia, Teleperformance, Dassault Systemes, WorldLine and Schneider Electric also ended notably higher.

On the other hand, Pernod Ricard, Carrefour, Bouygues, Renault, Vinci and Sodexo lost 1 to 2%.

In economic news, data showed Britain's retail sales rose more than expected in October despite a resurgence in COVID-19 cases. Health minister Matt Hancock said that coronavirus cases in Britain are starting to flatten as a result of current lockdowns.

The UK budget deficit reached its highest October level on record, reflecting the effects of government coronavirus policies, according to the office for National Statistics.

The public sector net borrowing rose by GBP 10.8 billion from the last year to GBP 22.3 billion in October.

Eurozone's consumer confidence weakened for a second consecutive month in November to reach its lowest level in six months as countries like Germany and France returned to lockdown amid a resurgence in the coronavirus pandemic.

The flash consumer confidence index fell to -17.6 from -15.5 in October, preliminary data from the European Commission showed on Friday. Economists had forecast a score of -17.7.

The latest reading was the weakest since May, when it was -18.8.

Germany's producer prices declined further in October, albeit at a softer pace, data from Destatis revealed today. The producer price index fell 0.7% in the month, slower than the 1% seen in September. Prices have decreased for the ninth consecutive month.

On a monthly basis, producer prices rose 0.1% in October, after a 0.4% increase in the previous month.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced a decision to allow five of the Federal Reserve's nine emergency lending programs to expire at year end.

The Fed responded to the decision in a rare public statement, saying it would prefer that the full suite of emergency facilities established during the coronavirus pandemic continue to serve their important role as a backstop for the still-strained and vulnerable economy.

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