Europe Markets

European stocks close higher on earnings; political uncertainty persists; Moller-Maersk down 5%


European stocks closed higher on Wednesday as the earnings season continued to be the main focus for investors.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 provisionally ended 0.32 percent higher with most sectors trading in positive territory.

Construction and material stocks ended the session higher by over 1.2 percent. Vinci forecast higher revenue and profits for this year on expectations of an upturn in construction in the French market. Its shares closed up by more than 4.6 percent on Wednesday.

The travel and leisure sector was also higher as oil prices whipsawed. German airline Lufthansa climbed over 3.4 percent after an upgrade from Societe Generale

Political uncertainty in Europe and America continues to dominate markets with investors rushing for gold and pressure mounting on the euro. However, earning reports were the main market drivers on Wednesday.

In the U.S., the Dow Jones industrial average and Nasdaq composite both continued hovering around the flatline after hitting record highs in the previous session.

The Norwegian Storebrand reached the top of the European benchmark, up by nearly 5 percent after reporting its first dividend payment in six years. On the other hand, Moller-Maersk was near the bottom of the benchmark, down by almost 5 percent, after it cut its dividend and presented higher-than-expected losses. The Danish drug company Lundbeck dropped 6 percent after announcing that it was dropping its tests on an experimental drug for Alzheimer. 

Healthcare firm Sanofi said Wednesday that its fourth-quarter net profit more than doubled thanks to lower amortization and restructuring costs. However, it highlighted a weak 2017 ahead.

U.K.-listed Rio Tinto reported full-year earnings of $4.62 billion, a return to profit thanks to a recovery in commodities. Its shares fell slightly at lunchtime. 

Packaging company Smurfit Kappa reported a 19 percent fall in pretax profit in the fourth quarter, but its shares rose 3.4 percent with dividends increasing by 20 percent. 

The Swiss engineering firm ABB said Wednesday that its fourth-quarter profit increased to $489 million from a year ago, despite lower revenues. Its shares moved 2 percent lower. 

The Swiss firm Syngenta reported a net profit of $1.178 billion in 2016, which sent shares slightly higher on Wednesday.

In other corporate news, Fiat Chrysler vehicles did not take key emission tests during investigations in Italy, Reuters reported on Wednesday. Also, the chief of Deutsche Bank's investment banking unit Jeffrey Urwin is set to leave, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Oil prices moved lower on Wednesday after data showed U.S. crude oil and gasoline inventories soared, while oil demand in China stalled. 

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