Markets

European markets close lower amid corporate earnings; SAP shares jump 12%

Key Points
  • The pan-European Stoxx 600 ended the session slightly below the flatline, with sectors and major bourses pointing in opposite directions.
  • Europe's auto stocks were among the worst performers Wednesday, down more than 1% after Nissan slashed its full-year profit forecast to a near-decade low.
  • Shares of German software group SAP gained more than 12% after activist investor Elliott revealed a $1.3 billion stake in the firm.

European stocks closed lower on Wednesday, dragged down by underwhelming corporate earnings and fall in crude oil prices.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 ended the session slightly below the flatline, with sectors and major bourses pointing in opposite directions.

Oil firms as well as miners were among the biggest losers as the stocks gave up some recent strong gains. Tullow Oil lost almost 4% over the session.

Europe's autos stocks were also sold off, down more than 1% after Nissan slashed its full-year profit forecast to a near-decade low. The Japanese automaker said Wednesday it now expects operating profit for the year ended March to drop 45% versus a year earlier to 318 billion yen ($2.84 billion) — that's down from a previous forecast of 450 billion yen. Fiat Chrysler and Valeo slipped more than 1% on the news, while Renault was down almost 4%.

Meanwhile, technology stocks gained more than 3% after activist investor Elliott revealed a $1.3 billion stake in SAP, Europe's largest software company. Elliott said it supported SAP's performance improvement strategy after the company posted a first-quarter operating loss. Shares of the German firm were up 12.5% – marking their biggest daily gain since 2008.

The sector was also lifted by the news that Japan's Softbank Group would buy a 5.6% stake in payments firm Wirecard for around 900 million euros ($1 billion). Shares of the Munich-based firm jumped 8.5%.

Elsewhere, Credit Suisse reported an increase in first-quarter net profit on Wednesday, beating analyst expectations. Switzerland's second-biggest bank reported a net income of 749 million Swiss francs ($733.93 million) for the first quarter of this year, an 8% increase year-on-year. Shares of the lender were flat after the closing bell.

France's Biomerieux tumbled toward the bottom of the European index Wednesday morning. It comes after the Paris-listed stock reported a moderate growth rate over the first three months of the year and confirmed its annual objectives. Shares of the company were down almost 7%.