EUROPE MARKETS: European Stocks Finish Higher, But Supermarket Shares Hit By Amazon

By Carla Mozee, MarketWatch Features Dow Jones Newswires

Nestlé seeking to sell U.S. unit

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Stocks across Europe finished higher Friday, but shares of some supermarket chains were hit hard after Amazon.com Inc. unexpectedly said it's scooping up Whole Foods Market Inc. in a nearly $14 billion deal.

The only sector ending lower was consumer services, as food and drug retailers collectively fell nearly 4%, according to FactSet data. But the Stoxx Europe 600 closed up 0.7% at 388.60 after two sessions of losses.

Helping Friday's win for European equities were Greek stocks, with the Athex Composite logging a 0.8% rise after the country's creditors agreed to release the next tranche of its EUR86-billion ($96.5-billion) (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/greece-reaches-deal-to-unlock-next-bailout-tranche-2017-06-16) bailout. But officials did put off a final decision on relieving Greece's crushing debt burden until August of next year.

The Stoxx Europe 600 still closed lower for the week, down by 0.5%, a second consecutive weekly fall.

On Sunday, the final round of voting in France's parliamentary election will be held, and the upstart party led by newly elected French President Emmanuel Macron is expected to win a large amount of seats.

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Grocers discounted: Shares of Dutch supermarket chain Royal Ahold Delhaize NV (AD.AE) tumbled 9.5%, marking the sharpest percentage loss since May 2003 for the company behind the Giant and Stop and Shop brands.

Read:European grocers crumble after Amazon-Whole Foods deal fuels pricing concerns (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/european-grocers-crumble-after-amazon-whole-foods-deal-fuels-pricing-concerns-2017-06-16)

"Amazon's $13.7 billion purchase of U.S. natural food store Whole Foods marks the entrance of a major new player into the supermarket space," wrote Jasper Lawler, senior market analyst at London Capital Group. Whole Foods shares (WFM) leapt more than 25% during Friday's session. (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/amazon-to-buy-whole-foods-for-137-billion-2017-06-16-91035726)

In London, Tesco PLC (TSCO.LN) shares dropped 4.9% in a volatile session for the U.K.'s largest supermarket chain after it reported first-quarter sales growth (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/tescos-uk-sales-rise-23-on-food-boost-2017-06-16). Shares earlier in the session had been up by more than 4%.

Food wholesaler Booker Group PLC (BOK.LN) , which is being purchased by Tesco, fell 3.3%, and Tesco's rival J Sainsbury PLC (SBRY.LN) tanked 3.9%. French retailer Carrefour SA (CA.FR) shed 3.2%, but shares of Amazon's U.K. partner Wm. Morrison Supermarkets PLC (MRW.LN) rose 1.1%.

Stock in online grocer Ocado Group PLC (OCDO.LN) reversed losses to close up 0.6%.

Lawler noted previous rumors that Amazon would buy Ocado, Britain's largest online grocer, as a way to prepare its entrance into the U.S. market.

"Given the Amazon's spending power and already large footprint in the U.K., the Whole Foods purchase probably increases the odds of an Ocado acquisition," he said.

Read:European grocers crumble after Amazon-Whole Foods deal fuels pricing concerns (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/european-grocers-crumble-after-amazon-whole-foods-deal-fuels-pricing-concerns-2017-06-16)

Tech recovering: All other sectors on the Stoxx 600 finished higher Friday, topped by tech shares, which had a rough week stemming from a selloff that included Apple Inc. (AAPL) that started on Wall Street.

The Stoxx Europe 600 Technology Index rose 1.1% on Friday, with chip makers AMS AG (AMS.EB) and Infineon Technologies AG (IFX.XE) each closing up 2.4%.

Read:Four ways to play the European boom (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/four-ways-to-play-the-european-boom-2017-06-14)

Other movers: In the consumer goods sector, shares of Nestlé SA (NESN.EB) picked up 3% after the company put its U.S. confectionery business up for sale (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/nestle-exploring-sale-of-us-confectionery-unit-2017-06-16) as it grapples with how to cater to U.S. consumers' increasing demand for healthy snacks.

Shares of Idorsia Ltd. (IDIA.EB) surged 37% in their first day of trading. The drug pipeline firm was spun out of Actelion after Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) completed its purchase of the rare-disease biotech firm.

Indexes: Germany's DAX 30 rose 0.5% to 12,752.73. Auto makers BMW AG (BMW.XE) and Daimler AG (DAI.XE) had been higher after a report that new car sales in the European Union rose 7.6% in May (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/eu-new-car-sales-rebound-with-76-rise-in-may-2017-06-16). But the shares ended slightly lower, each losing 0.1%.

The European Automobile Manufacturers' Association said car sales rose the most in Germany and Spain, but fell in the U.K., the EU's second-largest car market.

In Paris trade, shares of car maker Renault SA (RNO.FR) claimed a 0.9% rise, and Peugeot SA (UG.FR) bulked up 2.1%.

The U.K.'s FTSE 100 closed up 0.6% at 7,463.54 (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/ftse-100-advances-with-tesco-up-after-sales-report-2017-06-16).

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

June 16, 2017 12:31 ET (16:31 GMT)