European markets closed lower Friday, as investors reacted to conflicting signals about the ongoing Sino-U.S. trade war.
The pan-European Stoxx 600 index closed provisionally down around 0.4%, with most sectors and major bourses in negative territory. Retailers were among the worst performers, Ocado leading the sector’s losses with a more than 7% drop.
China’s Commerce Ministry said Thursday that the world’s two largest economies had agreed to lift existing tariffs in phases. Shortly thereafter, a White House spokesperson told Fox News that she was “very optimistic” that Washington and Beijing would reach a trade deal soon.
It prompted a surge of optimism in financial markets on Thursday, but worries that the pact could fall apart has since dampened investor sentiment. President Donald Trump said Friday that he had not agreed to roll back existing tariffs on Chinese products.
On Wall Street, shares were muted as a result of Trump’s comments. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down about 60 points while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq indexes struggled for direction.
Meanwhile, data from Chinese customs on Friday showed the country’s October exports fell 0.9% year-on-year, while imports fell 6.4%. The figures reportedly beat analysts’ expectations.
Looking at individual stocks, Richemont tumbled toward the bottom of the European benchmark. The Swiss watchmaker reported weaker-than-expected earnings for the first half of the year, as political protests in Hong Kong weighed on sales growth. Shares of the firm slipped over 6% on the news.