Europe Markets

European markets close higher on earnings; SocGen up 2.7%; Commerzbank slides 1.8%


European markets closed higher Thursday as investors digested company earnings and adopted a cautious approach to increasing political uncertainty.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 provisionally ended 0.82 percent higher with most sectors and major bourses trading in positive territory. The oil and gas sector was one of the best performers on Thursday after data showed an increase in U.S. gasoline stocks.

The French-based satellite provider Eutelsat reached the top of the European benchmark, up by 8.3 percent, after announcing that it is set to buy a ViaSat satellite. At the bottom of the benchmark was the Finnish sporting goods maker Amer Sports, down by 7.3 percent, after reporting lower-than-expected fourth-quarter sales and operating profit. 

Publicis also closed down by over 1.6 percent after reporting lower-than-expected results in its fourth quarter.

Meanwhile, in the U.S., the Dow Jones industrial average and broader S&P 500 index moved higher as investors focused on earnings, economic data and Federal Reserve commentary.

France's  reported a fourth-quarter net profit figure of 390 million euros ($417 million), ahead of analysts expectations. Its shares were higher by 2.7 percent on Thursday. 

Germany's  reported earnings slightly above expectations with a capital ratio of 12.3 percent, which is at the upper end of expectations. Shares were slightly higher on Thursday morning but soon dropped as much as 1.8 percent after the bank's CFO said that expectations are that 2018 will bring a moderate negative capital impact. 

The insurer Zurich announced a 74 percent jump in full-year net earnings as its core general insurance business rebounded under a new leadership, but it said that it was cautious on its outlook for 2017. Its shares moved slightly lower on the news.

Thomas Cook dropped as much as 7 percent in early trade after reporting a cautious outlook for 2017 amid the political and economic uncertainty in Europe. 

Meanwhile, Pernod Ricard was slightly down on Thursday after posting a 3 percent increase in net profit for the first half of its fiscal year and adding that it expects sales in the U.S. to stabilize in the medium-term.

On Thursday's calendar is a speech by Janet Yellen, the chair of the Federal Reserve, in the U.S. Senate. During Asian trading overnight, the dollar surged as a result of growing concerns regarding the heavy political calendar in Europe. Elsewhere, new data showed Thursday that Germany's trade surplus reached a new record high in 2016. 

Correction: An earlier version of this article said that Eutelsat had bought Viasat. Eutelsat and ViaSat formed a joint venture in Europe, and as part of the joint venture, ViaSat and Eutelsat expect to add the ViaSat-3 class satellite currently under construction for the EMEA region to the joint venture later this calendar year after concluding final legal and business terms.

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