Europe ends on a positive note, following UK stress test results, strong US trade; Ocado soars

  • The pan-European STOXX 600 ended up 0.56 percent provisionally, with all sectors except for basic resources closing higher
  • Jerome Powell, the nominee to chair the Federal Reserve, is being questioned at Capitol Hill
  • The Bank of England's stress tests revealed that no banks need to raise extra capital

European equities finished the trading day in the black on Tuesday, as investors digested individual stock news and comments from the next Federal Reserve chair.

The pan-European STOXX 600 ended up 0.56 percent provisionally, with all sectors except for basic resources closing on a positive note.

Looking to bourses, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 rose 1.04 percent, while France's CAC 40 popped 0.57 percent and Germany's DAX rose 0.46 percent.

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Oil and gas was Europe's top sector, amid individual stock news and expectations that OPEC members could extend a production cut deal lingered. Crude prices came under slight pressure, however.

Banking stocks finished higher after theBank of England released the latest results of its stress tests. For the first time since 2014 none of the banks assessed need to raise extra capital. The scenario of the tests included risks that could be associated with Brexit, including a sharp fall in house prices.

In other bank-related news, Societe Generale announced Tuesday it is to close 15 percent of branches and cut up to 900 jobs in France by 2020 as the lender seeks to accelerate its move into digital banking. Shares eked out minor gains by the close.

Elsewhere, basic resources underperformed in the broader market, as a sharp decline in metal prices, such as copper and nickel, weighed on sentiment. The sector closed down 0.87 percent.

Looking across the European benchmark, Ocado shares soared 20.84 percent — making it the top performer of the day. This was after the French supermarket Groupe Casino signed a deal with the British online grocer.

Renewable energy firm Siemens Gamesa shot up 9.9 percent after Sweden's Vattenfall announced that it had a "historically large wind power order" with the Spanish group, involving a total of 113 turbines for three new offshore wind farms. The news helped boost Danish wind turbine firm Vestas, which jumped 8.7 percent by the close.

Elsewhere, Royal Dutch Shell popped 3.4 percent after announcing that it would be scrapping its Scrip dividend program from 2017's fourth quarter.

At the other end of the benchmark, Udg Healthcare slipped 3 percent, off its session lows, following news that its CFO Alan Ralph will retire.

Shares in Denmark's Chr Hansen also slipped 2.87 percent after the ingredients maker announced that its CEO, Cees de Jong, would be stepping down.

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Money managers will keep an eye on U.S. tax reform. The Senate is due to vote on a tax bill Thursday, which could be a key moment for President Donald Trump.

Jerome Powell, the nominee to chair the Federal Reserve next year, is currently being questioned at Capitol Hill. Near the end of Europe's session Tuesday, Powell said that he favored "tailoring" regulations, to alleviate the burden on smaller banks. Markets players are also looking out for comments on inflation. U.S. equities, in general, edged higher by Europe's close, on the back of strong online sales for Cyber Monday.

Ireland's Deputy Prime Minister Frances Fitzgerald resigned Tuesday, avoiding a potential collapse of government and reducing the risk of a snap election.