Markets

European Markets Notch New Highs as Investors Watch Earnings, Data; Commerzbank Down 6%

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  • Earnings continued to guide sentiment in Europe, with Commerzbank, Siemens Energy, Hugo Boss and Intesa Sanpaolo among the big names reporting Wednesday.
  • Final PMI (purchasing managers' index) readings on Wednesday showed euro zone business activity surging in July to its fastest expansion in 15 years.

LONDON — European markets closed higher on Wednesday, as investors monitored corporate earnings from big names around the globe, along with economic data and the Covid-19 situation.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 closed up 0.6% by mid-afternoon, having earlier notched a fresh record high. Tech stocks climbed 2% to lead gains while oil and gas stocks fell 0.5%.

Shares in Asia-Pacific mostly advanced on Wednesday, with the exception of Japan, as a private survey showed Chinese services activity growth accelerating in July. However, the rapid rise in Covid-19 infections throughout the region is keeping optimism contained.

Stateside, stock futures pulled back slightly in premarket Wednesday trade after the previous session saw strong earnings power the S&P 500 to a new all-time closing high.

Back in Europe, Tuesday's earnings round showed that the global semiconductor shortage is likely to continue weighing on carmakers, as both BMW and Stellantis warned that production and sales will be hampered throughout the remainder of 2021 and beyond.

On the data front, final PMI (purchasing managers' index) readings on Wednesday showed euro zone business activity surging in July to its fastest expansion in 15 years. The final composite PMI, seen as a useful gauge of economic health, rose to 60.2 from June's 59.5. The 50 mark separates growth from contraction.

It was a different story in the U.K., where the composite PMI dropped sharply to 59.2 from June's 62.2 after services were hit by hundreds of thousands of workers being forced into self-isolation by the government's contact tracing app, as cases of the delta Covid-19 variant surged.

Earnings in focus

Earnings continued to guide sentiment in Europe, with Commerzbank, Siemens Energy, Hugo Boss and Intesa Sanpaolo among the big names reporting Wednesday.

Commerzbank reported a net loss of 527 million euros ($625.7 million) in the second quarter, as restructuring expenses and an exceptional write-off to an outsourcing project wiped out profits. The German lender's shares fell 6% to the bottom of the Stoxx 600 by mid-afternoon deals.

Siemens Energy blamed turbine subsidiary Siemens Gamesa for a 37% drop in third-quarter orders and a reduced target corridor for its main profit margin. The German company's shares slid 2.8%.

At the top of the European blue chip index, Luxembourgish satellite company SES and Dutch chemicals distribution company IMCD both climbed 9.4% and 8.8%, respectively, after strong first-half results.

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