Europe midday: Shares sluggish ahead of Fed announcement
European stocks were sluggish at midday on Wednesday as investors eyed news from the US Federal Reserve later in the day, with strong results from Deutsche Bank, Lloyds Banking Group and Santander boosting local markets.
The pan-European Stoxx 600 index was flat at midday with UK, German and French markets all modestly outperforming the benchmark. Investors were waiting on the US central bank's policy announcement later in the day, with no actual changes on policy settings anticipated.
Deutsche Bank shares jumped 9% as strength at its investment bank helped offset headwinds from restructuring and the pandemic. Lloyds rose 4.2% after reporting a better-than-expected profit and lower Covid-19 bad debt provisions. Sweden’s SEB and Spain’s Santander were also higher after quarterly results, while Commerzbank also gained.
Reckitt Benckiser fell despite the company maintaining full-year guidance.
Shares in building supplies group Travis Perkins slumped more than 8% after its shareholders approved the demerger of Wickes Group.
The spinoff plans were originally unveiled by Travis Perkins in December 2018 with a view to focusing on its advantaged trade businesses and simplifying the group to enable a more streamlined cost structure. However, the plans were put on hold in March 2020 when the Covid pandemic took hold.
Shares in WPP rose as the company said it made a strong start to 2021 with all its business lines returning to growth and business activity began to pick up from the Covid-19 crisis.
The world's biggest advertising company reported a 1.8% increase in revenue to £2.9bn in the three months to the end of March from a year earlier. Like-for-like income rose 6.3%.
Sainsbury's shares were out of favour after annual profit fell 39% as rising food sales were outweighed by higher costs during the pandemic but the company kept its annual dividend unchanged.