Europe Markets

Europe stocks close higher as US recession fears fade; Wirecard shares jump 26%

Key Points
  • Wirecard's shares were up 26 percent on Tuesday after a legal probe cleared the company of financial crimes.
  • Convatec shares surged 5 percent after reported interest from private equity firm EGT.
  • More generally, traders have been taking cues from debt markets in recent days for an indication of economic sentiment.

European equities closed higher on Tuesday as fears over a possible recession faded and investors concentrated on corporate news.

The pan-European Euro Stoxx 600 Index was higher by almost 0.8 percent at the closing bell, with major bourses and sectors mostly in positive territory. Media stocks jumped 1 percent after the European Parliament approved an overhaul to EU copyright law that could mean big tech will have to pay media producers for their content.

Wirecard shares surged to the top of the index during afternoon deals, with shares gaining more than 26 percent after a legal probe cleared the firm of criminal wrongdoing. The Munich-based firm had faced allegations that accounting staff in its Singapore office carried out sham transactions to bulk up its profits.

Elsewhere, Ocado shares jumped almost 3.8 percent after it signed an e-commerce partnership with Australia's Coles.

Medical devices maker Convatec also climbed towards the top of the index after it announced Genus boss Karim Bitar would take charge as CEO in September, and amid reported interest from a Swedish private equity firm. Shares of the London-listed stock gained 5 percent.

Airbus shares were up by 2 percent after China agreed to buy 300 of its planes in a deal worth tens of billions of dollars.

More generally, traders have been taking cues from debt markets in recent days for an indication of economic sentiment. Part of the U.S. bond yield curve — which plots yields from shortest maturity to highest — inverted on Friday, with the 10-year yield dipping below the yield on the 3-month paper for the first time since mid-2007. A yield curve inversion is generally seen as a sign that a recession is coming.

On Monday, the yield on the 10-year note fell to its lowest level since December 2017 — but it was a different story on Tuesday, with the 10-year yield rising to about 2.439 percent. Stocks on Wall Street were trading higher on Tuesday as Treasury yields stabilized.

Elsewhere, investors monitored the latest Brexit developments. U.K. lawmakers voted to seize control of the Brexit process on Monday evening, taking it away from Prime Minister Theresa May's government.

An amendment was passed that allows lawmakers to set a timetable for debate and subsequent votes — expected to take place on Wednesday — on alternative outcomes for the EU withdrawal deal.

In other political news, Chinese President Xi Jinping visited France on Monday. The two countries signed 15 commercial deals, including a 300-plane order with Airbus and a 1 billion euro ($1.1 billion) deal for EDF to build an offshore wind farm in China.

In terms of economic data, French figures confirmed GDP growth of 0.3 percent in the final three months of last year. Meaning the economy grew 1.6 percent over the course of 2018. Another survey released Tuesday morning showed French industrial morale unexpectedly fell in March.