European stocks edged higher on Friday as gains in retail and oil shares offset worries about U.S. politics and an impasse over fresh stimulus measures to support a pandemic-stricken global economy.
The pan-European STOXX 600 index rose 0.2% by 0815 GMT, on track for marginal weekly gains after signs of progress on COVID-19 vaccine pushed the index to February highs earlier this week.
Global mood remained subdued after U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said key pandemic lending programs at the Federal Reserve would expire on Dec. 31, putting the outgoing Trump administration at odds with the central bank.
UK’s FTSE 100 found some support as retail sales bounced in October and British health minister said there were encouraging signs that virus cases were starting to flatten.
The retail index rose 0.8% to lead sectoral gains, followed by oil and gas as well as travel and leisure stocks.
Italy’s BPER Banca rose 3.1% after the top investor in the bank threw its weight behind the idea of a merger with rival Banco BPM.
Reporting by Shashank Nayar and Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva