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European Shares Mostly Higher Despite Virus Worries

stockmarkets dec17 29jul20 lt

European stocks were mostly higher in cautious trade on Wednesday despite uncertainty around the coronavirus outbreak and a possible second wave of lockdowns.

A half-dozen U.S. states in the South and West reported their biggest one-day increase in coronavirus deaths Tuesday, fueling a bitter debate over the reopening of schools in the coming weeks.

Mainland China has reported 101 new cases of the novel coronavirus - the highest number in more than three and a half months.

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam warned that the city was on the brink of a large-scale outbreak and tightened lockdown measures.

Japan topped 1,000 Covid-19 cases for first time as Osaka and Aichi set daily records.

The focus turns to the U.S. Federal Reserve policy stance, though economists expect no change in interest rates.

The pan European Stoxx 600 edged up 0.1 percent to 368.11 after gaining 0.4 percent on Tuesday. France's CAC 40 index climbed 0.7 percent and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 was up 0.3 percent, while the German DAX slipped 0.1 percent.

UniCredit declined 1.8 percent. The Italian bank said it will not pay dividends nor do share buybacks in 2020, following the ECB's recommendation.

Telefonica Deutschland lost 4 percent after posting a loss in the second quarter.

Similarly, Spain's Banco Santander declined 3.3 percent after reporting a second-quarter loss of $12.25 billion.

German chemicals giant BASF edged down slightly. The company confirmed preliminary second-quarter results and said it still can't provide guidance for full-year sales and earnings.

Lender Deutsche Bank AG gave up 2 percent after posting a loss in the second quarter.

Puma rallied 3.3 percent. The sportswear brand said there was a relative improvement in sales by the end of June and that the industry is benefiting from more people having taken up exercising.

Lighting manufacturer Osram Licht surged 4.5 percent. The company said it is on track for achieving its current forecast for the full year despite all adversities.

Schneider Electric surged 4.5 percent. The French electrical equipment group confirmed its medium-term goals, which include raising its adjusted EBITA margin to 17 percent by 2022.

Luxury group Kering soared 4.4 percent. Chief Financial Officer Jean-Marc Duplaix told media that sales momentum had picked up in June in all regions as lockdowns eased.

Retailer Next soared 6.4 percent after reporting a smaller-than-expected decline in quarterly sales.

Wizz Air Holdings climbed 4 percent. The budget airline conserved cash in the quarter to June 30 and ended the period with a €1.5bn cash pile.

British lender Barclays tumbled 3.5 percent. The bank's pre-tax profits plunged 75 percent in the second quarter as it set aside more funds to protect for potential loan losses.

Medical equipment manufacturing company Smith & Nephew lost 3.4 percent after it swung to a pretax loss for the first half of the year.

In economic releases, French consumer confidence weakened unexpectedly in July after improving last month, survey data from the statistical office Insee showed.

The consumer sentiment index fell to 94 in July from 96 in June. The score was forecast to rise to 99.

U.K. shop prices declined at a slower pace in July, data from the British Retail Consortium showed. The shop price index dropped 1.3 percent year-on-year in July, following a 1.6 percent decrease in June.

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