Europe markets close mixed on earnings; Whitbread down nearly 5%; Saipem surges 10%

Key Points
  • The pan-European Stoxx 600 closed down 0.36 percent with most sectors in negative territory
  • Corporate earnings season continues to be in full swing, as several companies posted their latest results Tuesday

European markets closed mixed Tuesday, as investors monitored the latest corporate earnings and kept a close eye on Spain's constitutional crisis.

European markets

The pan-European Stoxx 600 closed down 0.36 percent provisionally with most sectors in negative territory. Health care and travel and leisure stocks led the losses in Europe, with both sectors down more than 1 percent.

Britain's Whitbread reported a first-half pretax profit rise of 6.7 percent as it added more Premier Inn rooms and opened extra Costa coffee outlets. Despite the profit rise in the first six months of the year, the U.K.'s biggest hotel and coffee shop operator slumped towards the bottom of the benchmark Tuesday, closing down almost 5 percent.

Italian oil services firm Saipem meanwhile said it had returned to profit, reporting a net profit of 53 million euros in the third quarter. Chief Executive Stefano Cao told analysts the market outlook remained challenged, according to Reuters. The news sent shares of the firm up more than 10 percent.

Swedish defense firm Saab posted earnings Tuesday, reporting that bookings and profits were above market forecasts in the third quarter. The company said it had been further aided by increases in defense spending and growing investments in civil security. Its shares closed up 4 percent.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average rose sharply on the back of strong quarterly results from 3M and Caterpillar.

Catalonia crisis

Switching focus to politics, Spain's central government took the unprecedented step of firing the government of Catalonia on Saturday in a last-ditch effort to prevent the restive region's push for independence. In response, Catalan separatist leaders called for mass civil disobedience. Spain's IBEX closed more than 0.4 percent higher, trimming almost all of its losses from the previous session.

On the data front, companies across the euro zone were reported to be growing at a slower rate than expected this month. The Composite Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) dropped to 55.9 in October, down from 56.7 in September. While the reading is weaker-than-anticipated, it still shows solid expansion as anything over 50 shows growth.