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European Markets Mixed

4/12/2012 7:38 AM ET

The European markets are mixed in afternoon trading Thursday after Asian markets rose on encouraging remarks from the Federal Reserve's Beige Book. Some broker commendations as well as bond sale results from Italy affected sentiment in the region.

The Federal Reserve's Beige Book said Wednesday that the U.S. economic recovery proceeded at a modest pace in recent months, as manufacturers expressed optimism despite concerns about higher energy prices. Consumer spending was "encouraging" across a number of the Fed's twelve districts.

Meanwhile, the editorial to the European Central Bank's monthly bulletin showed that Eurozone inflation is expected to stay above 2 percent in 2012, with upside risks prevailing. Over the policy-relevant horizon, the ECB forecasts price developments to remain in line with price stability.

While a gradual economic recovery is expected in the course of the year, the outlook remains subject to downside risks, the bank said.

Citigroup lowered global financial equities to "Neutral" and cut global telecom equities to "Underweight." The brokerage raised global industrial equities to "Overweight."

The Italian 3-year bond yield increased, while it missed the maximum target set for the issue.

The Euro Stoxx 50 index of eurozone bluechip stocks is falling 0.38 percent, while the Stoxx Europe 50 index, which includes some major U.K. companies, is sliding 0.21 percent.

The German DAX is adding 0.51 percent and Switzerland's SMI is rising 0.30 percent. The French CAC 40 is falling 0.08 percent while the UK's FTSE 100 is losing 0.16 percent.

In Frankfurt, Infineon Technologies is advancing 3.9 percent, followed by HeidelbergCement, which is up about 2 percent. Deutsche Bank raised Infineon to "Buy" from "Hold."

BMW is climbing 1.6 percent. Volkswagen is moderately higher. Daimler is up 0.2 percent.

Vossloh is up over 2 percent. HSBC raised the stock to "Overweight" from "Neutral."

Sky Deutschland is surging nearly 12 percent after UBS raised the stock to its 'Most Preferred List.'

Fresenius is up 0.75 percent while Fresenius Medical Care is marginally lower. Barclays initiated Fresenius with an "Overweight" rating and Fresenius Medical Care with an "Equalweight" rating.

Pharma and healthcare industry supplier Gerresheimer upped its fiscal 2012 revenue forecast, despite lower first-quarter profit. The stock is climbing nearly 6 percent.

Commerzbank is declining 4.3 percent and Deutsche Bank is losing 0.9 percent.

Metro is losing 3.2 percent. Berenberg cut the stock to "Sell" from "Hold."

In Paris, Peugeot is declining 4.7 percent and Renault is losing 0.6 percent.

Societe Generale is declining 2.7 percent and Credit Agricole is losing 2.3 percent. BNP Paribas is falling 0.7 percent.

Carrefour is losing 0.4 percent. The grocery retailer reported a marginal rise in sales for the first quarter, helped by overall growth in emerging markets and a positive calendar effect in most geographies. Berenberg cut the stock to "Sell" from "Hold."

France Telecom is falling 2.65 percent.

Schneider Electric is gaining 1.6 percent, Technip is rising 1.5 percent and Accor is advancing 1.2 percent.

Danone is up 0.3 percent. Societe Generale raised the stock to "Buy" from "Hold."

In London, Oil giant Royal Dutch Shell is falling 4.6 percent and BP is losing 2.2 ercent.

Aviva is down about 1 percent while Prudential is flat. Man Group is falling 2 percent.

Among miners, BHP Billiton is rising 2.2 percent and Rio Tinto is adding 3.5 percent.

GKN is climbing 4.6 percent. Johnson Matthey is gaining 3.2 percent and Meggitt is rising 2.4 percent. Aggreko is climbing 2.6 percent.

Staffing firm Hays sees operating profit for the year to be towards the top of the current range of market estimates. The stock is climbing nearly 11 percent.

Roche is up 1.4 percent in Zurich. The drug giant reported a 1 percent drop in first-quarter sales, as organic performance was offset by a stronger currency. Signaling its willingness to raise its already sweetened offer for U.S.-based gene mapping company Illumina, Roche said its revised $6.7 billion bid is a more than reasonable starting point for negotiations.

Nokia is slumping 7.5 percent in Helsinki after the company on Wednesday slashed its outlook for the devices & services unit for the first quarter of fiscal 2012.

In economic news, industrial production in the euro area unexpectedly increased in February, helped by a marked increase in energy production, data released by statistical office Eurostat revealed. Industrial production moved up 0.5 percent on a monthly basis in February, after remaining flat in the previous month. Economists were looking for a 0.2 percent decrease.

Across Asia/Pacific, Australia's All Ordinaries gained 0.79 percent, China's Shanghai Composite Index climbed 1.82 percent and Hong Kong's Hang Seng advanced 0.93 percent. Japan's Nikkei 225 rose 0.70 percent.

In the U.S., futures point to a higher open on Wall Street ahead of the jobs report. In the previous session, the markets benefited from a positive reaction to aluminum giant Alcoa's quarterly results. The Dow climbed 0.7 percent, the Nasdaq rose 0.8 percent and the S&P 500 advanced 0.7 percent.

In the commodity space, crude for May delivery is adding $0.34 to $103.04 per barrel and June gold is sliding $4.5 to $1655.8 a troy ounce.

by RTT Staff Writer

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