Europe midday: Shares find some momentum on earnings news
European shares moved higher at lunch on Wednesday's session, as investors looked for direction on US stimulus measures and the pace of vaccine rollouts across the continent.
The pan-European Stoxx 600 index gained ground from the morning to be 0.24% higher, with regional bourses mixed. Investors and traders are looking for any new glimmer of an economic recovery as they hunt for equity bargains.
“Attention is now slowly turning towards beaten down stocks and sectors which could stage something of a recovery in the post-pandemic world,” said interactive investor analyst Richard Hunter.
“Particular focus will remain on the likes of the oil and banking sectors, tourism and travel including airlines and hotels, as well as leisure sectors such as pubs and restaurants.”
IG analyst Joshua Mahony said that despite "notable market drivers in the form of the US stimulus plans and ongoing coronavirus vaccination programme" last week's gains appear to have captured much of the initial improvement in sentiment.
"Instead we appear to be in a holding pattern as markets await a breakthrough in stimulus talks. Unfortunately the focus in Washington has shifted away from stimulus, with politicians instead sidetracked by the Trump impeachment trial that has kicked off this week."
"From a US perspective, that hope for a belated stimulus boost does provide expectations of further outperformance, with US markets pushing into record highs of late. That comes despite Biden’s agreement to restrict stimulus payments for higher earning individuals."
Eyes this afternoon will be on US inflation data, where the headline figure is expected to fall form 0.4% to 0.3% month-on-month.
This will be followed by an appearance from Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell, with investors looking for a view on the Biden administration’s American Rescue Plan, and the implications for monetary policy going forwards.
In equity news, shares in paper and packaging giant Smurfit Kappa rose after it posted forecast-beating final earnings, boosted by strong demand in Europe and America.
Grenke shares soared 16% after the company said the sudden departure of chief operating officer Mark Kindermann did not raise doubts about its financial health.
The company's share price has been on a roller-coaster ride after fraud allegations, denied by the company, by shortseller Fraser Perring’s Viceroy Research.
Dutch Bank ABN Amro shares fell even as the company reported a better-than-expected fourth-quarter net profit.
German conglomerate Thyssenkrupp added 5.8% after it raised its full-year outlook on the back of higher demand.
Shipping line Maersk was down 5.6% despite forecasting a surge in demand for container shipping that would boost first quarter earnings.
Shares in Swedish sports product company Thule Group rose 9.23% as the company reported a rise in fourth quarter sales driven by higher demand.
Shares in drinks giant Heineken fell as the company announced plans to cut about 8,000 jobs, in an effort to restore operating margins to pre-pandemic levels after a sharp decline in profit because of coronavirus restrictions.