European Markets Notch Record Highs With Earnings Season in Focus

Tolga Akmen | AFP via Getty Images
  • The pan-European Stoxx 600 closed up around 0.5% after hitting an all-time high earlier in the session.
  • Investors in Europe had an eye on a host of March inflation data out of major economies on the continent.
  • But the main focus was earnings, with a slew of companies reporting their latest quarterly results.

LONDON — European markets rallied to record highs Thursday as investors digested a fresh round of corporate earnings.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 closed up around 0.5% after hitting an all-time high earlier in the session. Mining stocks were the standout gainers, climbing 1.5%, with most sectors and major bourses in positive territory.

On Wall Street, U.S. stocks climbed to record levels on Thursday after key companies reported strong earnings and fresh economic data pointed to a rebound in consumer spending and the jobs market. Bank of America and Citi both posted strong earnings beats.

In coronavirus news, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention panel decided Wednesday to postpone a decision on Johnson and Johnson's Covid-19 vaccine following the development of a rare, but potentially life-threatening blood-clotting disorder in six women.

Governments around the world are trying to up the ante on vaccine rollouts as the proliferation of Covid-19 is "growing exponentially," the World Health Organization warned on Monday.

Investors in Europe had an eye on a host of March inflation data out of major economies on the continent. Germany's overall non-harmonized consumer price index came in at 0.5% on a monthly basis and 1.7% year-on-year. France's official statistics agency reported monthly harmonized CPI inflation at 0.7% in March.

Corporate activity was also in focus in Europe on Thursday, with L'Oreal set to report first-quarter earnings after the bell and Italy's Unicredit held its AGM. Oil major Shell also published its annual environmental, social and governance update.

Deliveroo said its orders more than doubled in the first quarter from the same period last year, in its first trading update since the British food delivery company's high-profile IPO flop. But shares sank 3.8% after the firm warned of a "deceleration" in growth as coronavirus lockdown restrictions are rolled back.

In terms of individual share price movement, ABB gained 3.1% after the Swedish-Swiss tech manufacturer beat first-quarter profit expectations, while Belgian brewer AB InBev added 3.8% after Barclays upgraded the stock to "overweight" and raised its price target.

Toward the top of of the Stoxx 600, GSK climbed 4.6% as the FT reported that activist hedge fund Elliott Management had taken a multi-billion dollar stake in the company, while the European Medicines Agency said Thursday it is beginning a review of GSK's monoclonal antibody to treat Covid-19.

At the bottom of the European blue chip index, British e-commerce firm The Hut Group sank 5.8% after posting annual operating loss, citing costs that were largely related to a share-based payments charge.

Shares of real estate companies with assets in Berlin rose on Thursday after Germany's Constitutional Court struck down a law putting a rent cap on apartments in the capital. Deutsche Wohnen gained 2.5% following the ruling.

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