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Europe close: Stocks edge higher as EU and US sign LNG deal

By Alexander Bueso

Date: Friday 25 Mar 2022

(Sharecast News) - European shares rose on Friday as investors cheered a deal between the European Union and US to increase gas exports to the bloc and reduce reliance on Russian energy.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 was up 0.11% to 453.55, with nearly all major regional bourses also in the green.

Paris's Cac-40 was the exception, dipping 0.03% to 6,553.68.

World leaders met on Thursday to discuss the Russian invasion of its neighbour. NATO committed extra troops along its eastern flank, while the UK and US introduced more sanctions against Russian elites and officials.

The US and EU on Friday struck a deal to increase exports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to the block and cut its dependence on Russian energy.

US President Joe Biden and his European Commission counterpart Ursula von der Leyen said the deal would see LNG shipments to Europe rise by 15 billion cubic metres this year.

"Threats from (US) President Biden of a NATO response if more lethal weapons are used by Russia has raised worries about potential escalation, which is weighing on sentiment. High commodity prices, sent soaring by the repercussions of the conflict, have been flagged by companies as a drag on growth this year," said Hargreaves Lansdown analysts Susannah Streeter.

On the economic front, UK retail sales unexpectedly fell in February, with online shopping dropping back below pre-pandemic levels and storms keeping shoppers away, according to figures released on Friday by the Office for National Statistics.

Retail sales declined by 0.3% following a 1.9% jump in January, missing expectations for a 0.6% increase. This left sales 3.7% above pre-pandemic levels in February 2020.

In equity news, shares in Telecom Italia rose after KKR said it remains interested in taking over the phone group.

Sweden's Trelleborg surged more than 20% to the top of the Stoxx after Yokohama Rubber announced that it would buy its tire business for $2.18bn.

Shares in HomeServe jumped after Canadian property investment group Brookfield Asset Management announced on Thursday that one of its private infrastructure funds was in the early stages of considering a possible offer for the company.

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