Europe markets higher as trade developments linger, WH Smith up 4%

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Europe markets traded slightly higher Wednesday morning, with investors focused on political developments in Europe and the latest chapter in the trade dispute between the U.S. and China.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 was 0.1 percent higher with most sectors moving into positive territory. Basic resources and oil stocks were the top-performing sectors.

In stocks news, the media company Schibsted rose to the top of the European index after a rating upgrade, with shares up more than 6 percent higher.

WH Smith saw its shares rise by more than 4 percent after reporting a 4 percent increase in sales in the 13-weeks to June 2. Growth in its travel business helped to offset a decline in high-street sales.

At the other end, RPC Group dropped more than 8 percent after announcing the sale of several non-core assets.

Overall market sentiment was influenced by politics. New Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte presented the coalition’s plans to crackdown on immigration and up welfare spending while cutting taxes on Tuesday. The yield on 10-year Italian paper traded 12 basis points higher shortly after the market open at 2.86 percent — showing investors are wary about the government’s plans.

Furthermore, Jens Weidmann, head of Germany’s central bank, warned Wednesday that the market reaction to Italy’s unstable politics demonstrates that the euro zone is yet to be fully “crisis proof.”

Also world trade continues to dominate the agenda. On Tuesday, it was announced that U.S. lawmakers intend to introduce legislation that would force President Donald Trump to obtain approval from Congress before tariffs on national security grounds can be imposed.

Meanwhile, Trump met with trade advisors Tuesday to discuss the possibility of China importing an additional $70 billion of U.S. goods — the next step in diffusing a trade dispute between the world’s two largest economies.

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