European Stocks Higher; Corporate Results Boost Sentiment By


© Reuters

By Peter Nurse — European stock markets traded higher Thursday as investors focused on a slew of mostly positive earnings releases while awaiting the latest moves in the spat with Russia over gas supplies to Europe.

By 4 AM ET (0800 GMT), the in Germany traded 1.6% higher, the in France rose 1.6% and the U.K.’s climbed 0.8%.

European equity markets have suffered this month on worries the prolonged Covid outbreak in China and the hawkish pivot from the Federal Reserve will stunt global growth.

However, the focus Thursday has turned towards the quarterly corporate earnings season, with a number of influential companies reporting healthy results.

Unilever (NYSE:) stock rose 0.6% after the posted a strong increase in its first-quarter revenue, now expecting full-year sales growth at the top end of its 4.5% to 6.5% range, even if rising input costs will hit its margins.

Barclays (LON:) stock rose 1.1% after the British bank posted better-than-expected first quarter pretax profit but also delayed its share buyback plans due to scrutiny by U.S. regulators of a trading blunder it announced last month.

Pernod Ricard (EPA:) stock rose 1.4% after the French spirits group posted a 20% jump in organic sales in the third quarter, while telecom equipment maker Nokia Corp ADR (NYSE:) stock climbed 3.4% after the Finnish telecom equipment maker reported a stronger-than-expected quarterly operating profit.

Carlsberg (OTC:) stock jumped 3.3% after the Danish brewer’s first-quarter sales were lifted by thirsty customers, while HelloFresh stock rose 5.5% after the German meal-kit maker beat quarterly expectations, easing worries about its full-year guidance.

On the flip side, J Sainsbury (OTC:) stock slumped 3% after the British supermarket chain warned its profit will fall this year as shoppers feel squeezed by the higher cost of living. 

European markets were roiled Wednesday by the news that Gazprom, Russia’s state-owned energy giant, has halted gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria until the two countries agree to Moscow’s demands to pay for the fuel in rubles.

European Union energy ministers are set to hold an emergency meeting on Monday to discuss the situation, while the Biden administration approved more requests to export U.S. as it seeks to counteract Russia’s efforts to use the fuel as a weapon against Ukraine’s allies.

On the economic data front, fell to 8.4% in April from 9.8% the previous month, offering hope that the recent surge may have peaked. 

Germany, Europe’s biggest economy, is set to release data later Thursday, with analysts expecting price gains to have stabilized at 7.6%.

Oil prices stabilized Thursday with traders digesting the Covid outbreak in China as well as the latest U.S. inventory data.

Data from the Energy Information Administration, released late Wednesday, showed U.S. crude oil inventories rose 692,000 barrels for the week to April 22, a smaller build than the 4.78 million barrels reported by the industry body the day before.

By 4 AM ET, futures traded 0.1% higher at $102.12 a barrel, while the contract traded flat at  $104.96. 

Additionally, fell 0.3% to $1,883.66/oz, while traded 0.1% lower at 1.0552, just above a new five-year low.

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