European stocks held on to their early gains on Thursday despite a weak Spanish bond auction, which showed that the nation sold EUR 2.981 billion bonds compared with the EUR2- EUR3 billion target against a backdrop of rising yields.
With stronger housing data from the United States and China and better-than-expected earnings from IBM and eBay underpinning sentiment, the Euro Stoxx 50 index of eurozone bluechip stocks is currently up 0.72 percent, while the Stoxx Europe 50 index, which includes some major U.K. companies, is gaining 0.54 percent.
Around Europe, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 is up 0.27 percent, while France's CAC 40, the German DAX and Switzerland's SMI are gaining about half a percent each.
In stock-specific action, ADVA Optical Networking is climbing 5 percent in Frankfurt after the provider of intelligent telecommunications infrastructure solutions reported a significant increase in profit for the second quarter on the back of foreign currency exchange gains. Lender Deutsche Bank is declining marginally on a report that the lender is mulling cutting 1000 jobs in its investment banking division.
British lenders Barclays and HSBC Holdings are up 0.9 percent and 0.7 percent, respectively. A report from the Bank of England released today showed that lending to British businesses contracted in May as loans to small and medium-sized enterprises declined.
BP Plc is up 0.4 percent after the energy giant announced that it is moving on to the next stage in the process, required under the shareholder agreement, for the potential sale of its shareholding in TNK-BP.
Alstom SA is gaining 2 percent in Paris after the company said it expects orders to be sustained and sales to grow by more than 5 percent in the full year.
In economic releases, the eurozone current account surplus increased in May following a sharp decline in April, a report from the European Central Bank showed. The seasonally adjusted current account surplus rose to EUR 10.9 billion in May from EUR 5.5 billion in April and EUR 12.6 billion in March.
U.K. retail sales increased at a slower than expected pace in June, while Italy's industrial orders recovered as expected by economists in May, separate reports released today showed.
Elsewhere, Asian markets rose broadly, as gains in U.S. housing starts and strong earnings reports from U.S. tech majors eased worries about a sharp slowdown in corporate profit growth. The Dow futures point to a higher start on Wall Street as investors await data on jobless claims, existing home sales and the Philadelphia Federal Reserve's manufacturing index.
by RTT Staff Writer
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