European Stocks Close Higher

Despite rising prospects of monetary tightening by global central banks, and concerns about surging coronavirus cases in Europe, European stocks closed higher on Thursday as strong data from the U.S. lifted investor sentiment.

Investors digested the minutes of the Federal Reserve (released on Wednesday), and the European Central Bank, as well as the latest batch of economic data from Europe.

The pan European Stoxx 600 climbed 0.42%. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 gained 0.33%, Germany's DAX advanced 0.25% and France's CAC 40 gained 0.48%, while Switzerland's SMI ended 0.44% up.

Among other markets in Europe, Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Ireland, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain and Turkey closed higher.

Iceland, Poland, Russia and Sweden ended weak.

In the UK market, Compass Group, Whitbread, Intercontinental Hotels Group, Land Securities, St. James Place, Ashtead Group, Scottish Mortgage, Rolls-Royce Holdings, Coca-Cola HBC, Unilever, Berkeley Group Holdings, 3i Group, Severn Trent, Taylor Wimpey and Smurfit Kappa Holdings gained 1.5 to 3.2%.

Mothercare shares gained about 2.6% after the specialist brand for parents and young children reported a profit in its first half, compared to last year's loss.

Vodafone Group declined more than 3%. RightMove, DarkTrace, Imperial Brands, Evraz and Rio Tinto shed 1 to 2.2%.

In the French market, Unibail Rodamco rallied more than 3%. Air France KLM and Pernod Ricard both gained about 2.5%. Dassault Systemes, WorldLine, Sodexo Atos, Hermes International and Engie gained 1.3 to 2%.

Remy Cointreau shares soared nearly 14% to a record high after the wine and spirits company raised full-year profit outlook after first-half net profit attributable to the Group climbed 106.1% to 134.0 million euros from last year's 65 million euros.

Technip, Valeo and Faurecia declined sharply. Sanofi, Carrefour, Mitchelin and STMicroElectronics also closed weak.

In Germany, RWE rallied nearly 7%. E.ON gained about 2.5% and Sartorius advanced 1.4%. Siemens, Deutsche Bank, Siemens Healthineers and Qiagen also closed notably higher.

Jenoptik climbed 8% after the company said it has signed an agreement to sell the VINCORION division to a fund managed by private equity firm STAR Capital Partnership LLP.

Zalando, Fresenius Medical Care, BMW, Deutsche Post, Porsche Automobil, HelloFresh and Continental closed weak.

In the Swiss market, shares of Swiss Life Holdings climbed more than 3.5% percent the company launched a new $1.07 bln share buyback.

In economic news, the minutes of the latest European Central Bank showed staff projections in December may not resolve all uncertainties around the medium-term outlook and policymakers must keep sufficient options for future monetary policy actions.

"While the Governing Council would benefit from new staff macroeconomic projections at its December meeting, it was cautioned that the data available in December would not resolve all the uncertainties around the medium-term inflation outlook," the ECB said in the minutes, which it called "account" of the October 27-28 policy session.

"It was seen as important that the Governing Council should keep sufficient optionality to allow for future monetary policy actions, including beyond its December meeting."

Germany's gross domestic product grew 1.7% sequentially in the third quarter, instead of 1.8% estimated on October 29, revised data from Destatis showed.

Germany's consumer confidence is set to deteriorate at a faster than expected rate in December as households turned more cautious amid the fourth wave of coronavirus and high inflation, results of a survey showed Thursday.

The forward-looking consumer confidence index fell to a six-month low of -1.6 from 1.0 in November, which was revised from 0.9, the market research growth GfK said. Economists had forecast -0.5 reading.

UK retailers reported an increase in sales growth in November as clothing and department stores logged a big upward swing in sales volume, the Distributive Trades Survey results from the Confederation of British Industry showed.

The retail sales balance rose to 39% in November from 30% in October. A net 56% expects sales to pick up in December.

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