Europe midday: Shares pace gains on corporate earnings
European shares started March on a higher note as better-than-expected China data drove Asian markets overnight.
The pan-European Stoxx 600 index was up 0.32% at 1145 GMT, with all major bourses higher as China’s Caixin general manufacturing PMI rose to 51.6, beating forecasts of 50.2, and up from 49.2 in January. A level above 50 indicates expansion.
Shares in Hong Kong soared by more than 4% on the news, with China stocks gaining 1%.
"March winds of hope are blowing through markets that China’s reopening will offset weakness in other countries which are beset with stubborn inflation and a worsening cost of living crisis,” said Hargreaves Lansdown analyst Susannah Streeter.
“The vast Chinese economy is snapping back from the pain of the pandemic with the latest reading of the closely watched survey on factory activity showing better-than-expected growth in February. The before the onerous effects of the rolling lockdowns took effect, and the first jump in activity since July, with new orders, increased staff levels and higher output all showing up.”
In equity news, shares in Allfunds Group tanked by 13.18% after Euronext pulled its €5.5bn offer for the fund distribution company, which had called the terms of the exchange operator's bid inadequate.
BNP Paribas fell on news that Belgium was preparing the sale of a third of its 7.8% equity stake the eurozone's biggest bank.
UK housebuilders tumbled on a Persimmon profit warning after it was knocked by the spike in mortgage rates. Taylor Wimpey, Vistry, Bellway and Barratt also fell on the news. Sentiment wasn’t helped by the latest survey from mortgage lender Nationwide, which revealed house prices fell by 1.1% year-on-year in February, the first annual decline since June 2020
Mining engineer Weir surged on the back of a strong rise in annual earnings.
Nivea maker Beiersdorf shares fell as the company forecast organic sales growth to slow after a bumper 2022, while Just Eat Takeaway.com was down despite swinging to a small 2022 core profit.
Logistics group Kuehne und Nagel also made sharp gains despite reporting a 43% drop in fourth-quarter operating profit and said geopolitical and inflationary challenges would persist.
Reporting by Frank Prenesti for Sharecast.com