Europe midday: Shares pace gains ahead of Fed's Powell
European stocks paced gains at midday after Asian markets were mixed on weak China trade data and investors eyed US Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell's testimony to Congress for any hint of the future path of interest rates.
The pan-European Stoxx 600 was up 0.26% at 1144 GMT as another deluge of earnings was dumped on traders.
‘’Caution is set to stay the name of the game on financial markets as investors await testimony from the world’s most influential central banker. With investors on tenterhooks about just how far interest rates will rise, and what effect this will have on the world’s largest economy,” said Susannah Streeter, head of money and markets at Hargreaves Lansdown.
“Any hint that he's swirling the latest data and is finding a pattern of inflation that’s stubbornly hard to shift, could trigger fresh falls in equities, and may see bond yields edge up.”
Chinese exports in January and February fell 6.8%, lower than a year before, while imports plunged by 10.2% compared with expectations of a 5.5% fall.
“This highlights not just sluggish domestic demand, but also that Chinese companies aren’t importing as many materials or parts to manufacture goods destined for overseas,” Streeter said.
In equity news meal kit maker HelloFresh fell sharply after a disappointing update.
Zalando opened higher, defying expectations, after the online fashion retailer hit the lower end of its full-year target range and unveiled a cautious outlook for 2023.
Italian payments group Nexi gained as the company confirmed guidance for 2023 and said transaction volumes accelerated in the first eight weeks of this year by 17%.
Equipment rental firm Ashtead rallied after it said full-year results were set to be ahead of its expectations following a strong third-quarter performance, as it highlighted "robust" end markets.
Wood Group was also up after saying it was minded to reject a fourth takeover approach from Apollo Global Management at 237p a share as it continues to undervalue the business.
Reporting by Frank Prenesti for Sharecast.com