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Markets celebrate advanced trade talks


US markets started the month higher on Friday on news that US-China trade talks may conclude in the next couple of weeks as US officials prepare for a summit between President Donald Trump and Chinese leader Xi Jinping. The Dow Jones Industrial Average advanced 110.32 points, or 0.4%, to 26,026.32, while the S&P 500 index edged up 19.20 points, or 0.7%, to 2,803.69. The Nasdaq Composite Index gained 62.82 points, or 0.8%, to 7,595.35.

European indexes were also driven higher by the renewed hopes of a US-China trade deal, with the region’s top gains coming from Germany after a strong report on the local jobs market lifting markets. The Stoxx Europe 600 advanced 0.6% to 375.17 with Germany’s DAX gaining 1.1% to close at 11,644.57. The UK’s FTSE 100 added 0.6% to end at 7,119.90.

Maltese markets continued their win-streak with the MSE Total Return Index closing up 0.208% to 9,039.048. The highest gains were seen from Medserv Plc, which advanced 3.6% to €1.15 and Maltapost Plc which gained 2.4% to €1.30. HSBC Bank Malta Plc received 1.3% from its low of €1.60 to €1.62.

GAP spins off Old Navy

Shares in American clothing retailer, GAP, surged as much as 24% on Friday as investors praised the company’s to separate its better-performing brand – Old Navy. Gap said on Thursday that Old Navy would be spun off to its shareholders, while the other entity will consist of the Gap brand, Athleta, BR, Intermix and Hill City.

The company also announced it would close hundreds of underperforming Gap stores in the next two years and would increase investments in its online business as they try to adapt to a more modern retail environment. On a post-earnings call with analysts on Thursday, Chief Executive Officer Art Peck said the company would focus on quality, fit and style of apparel that today’s consumer needs, with special focus on denim to boost the Gap brand.

Greece’s second bond issue of the year

The Hellenic Republic will be launching its second bond offering of the year, taking advantage of lower borrowing costs. The latest sale marks another step in the country’s rehabilitation for markets since the euro-area debt crisis, following a move by Moody’s to raise Greece’s sovereign rating by two notches to B1 with a stable outlook on Friday.

The nation has mandated six banks as lead managers for a new 10-year bond, its first issuance of the benchmark tenor since 2017, according to an Athens bourse filing on Monday. While Greek debt has outperformed the euro area this year to take yields to a 13-year low, investors are likely to be attracted to the offering since the securities still offer the highest returns in the region.