European equities finished mixed on Tuesday, as investors digested a whole raft of new earnings, ahead of a number of important central bank meetings this week.
Markets eye central banks; oil pops 2.5%
The pan-European STOXX 600 finished up 0.2 percent provisionally, however sectors were pointing in different directions by the close.
London's FTSE 100 held onto its gains, closing up 0.4 percent, bolstered by Standard Chartered, while its European counterparts ended in negative territory. France's CAC 40 was off 0.3 percent, and Germany's DAX slipped to close down 0.3 percent.
"It remains to be seen whether this slowdown in (the market's) upward momentum has the potential to turn into something a little more tangible, or whether it is simply a little bit of caution ahead of this week's big central bank meetings of the U.S. Federal Reserve and the Bank of Japan," Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets, said in a Tuesday note.
The U.S. Federal Open Market Committee is not expected to move on interest rates at its meeting scheduled for this Tuesday and Wednesday, but investors will scrutinize the statement for indications on the potential for a hike at the June meeting. Meanwhile, the Bank of Japan is due to release its statement on monetary policy Thursday.
Oil trades higher
Crude oil futures rose during Tuesday's trade, boosted by hopes that demand could rise enough to match supply in 2016, along with a weaker dollar and a flood of new cash into the market.
Analysts however have warned that fundamentals could remain weak as a producer race for customers heats up in the Middle East. Around Europe's close, oil prices were up some 2.5 percent, with Brent trading around $45.64, while U.S. crude was at $43.79 per barrel. While oil stocks posted solid gains, closing up over 1 percent as a sector, weak metal prices weighed on basic resources, with Glencore closing almost 2 percent down.
Earnings in focus: BP, StanChart jump
Central banks and commodities weren't the only things moving markets on Tuesday, as a new batch of earnings kept investors busy. Oil major BP reported a pretax loss of $865 million in the first quarter of 2016, as low oil prices continue to plague the company. Shares however jumped 4.3 percent with the loss beating market expectations.
Shares of Standard Chartered bank surged some 9.7 to 9.8 percent after the group reported a pre-tax profit of $589 million, showing signs of a turnaround. Overall, banks outperformed fellow sectors — closing up 2.5 percent — helped by a rally in Italian banks. Italy's FTSE MIB closed up around 1.5 percent.
In France, telecoms operator Orange said first-quarter revenues grew 0.6 percent year-on-year, helped by a return to growth in Spain. Restated EBITDA fell 1.6 percent however. Orange confirmed its full-year guidance for 2016, sending shares to close up 1.3 percent.
Meanwhile, German drugmaker Bayer reported a 15.7 percent rise in EBITDA for the first quarter to 3.4 billion euros ($3.8 billion). Shares reversed morning gains to close over 1 percent down.
And shares in Dutch staffing agency Randstad slipped 3 percent. This comes after it reported a 10 percent rise in core earnings for the first quarter of 168.9 million euros, which disappointed investors.
At the bottom of Europe's benchmarks was British engineering firm Cobham, which saw shares tank over 17 percent after it outlined a £500 million ($724.8 million) rights issue after warning that first-quarter trading was behind the board's expectations.
Shares in Austria Microsystems, a supplier to Apple, fell over 15.5 percent after it reported weak first-quarter results and warned on "ongoing volatility" in the second quarter. This dragged down other chipmakers including Dialog Semiconductor and ARM.