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European markets close slightly higher amid earnings, weak economic data

Key Points
  • Deutsche Bank reports a weaker-than-expected net loss for the second quarter of 2019.
  • Traders look ahead to key monetary policy decisions from the ECB and the Fed.
  • Boris Johnson is officially appointed as the U.K.'s new prime minister.

European stocks closed slightly higher Wednesday, as market participants digested a fresh round of corporate earnings and disappointing economic data out of France and Germany.

European Markets: FTSE, GDAXI, FCHI, IBEX

The pan-European Stoxx 600 closed provisionally up almost 0.1%, with autos stocks leading the gains with a near-1.5% rise while the basic resources sector tumbled over 1.2%.

Market focus is largely attuned to economic data and corporate results. PMI (Purchasing Managers' Index) data showed that a recession in Germany's manufacturing sector worsened in July with goods producer performance falling to its lowest level in seven year.

Meanwhile, French business growth also slowed unexpectedly. The euro slumped to two-month lows to $1.1127 following the PMI figures, but recovered slightly to trade around the $1.1140 mark during the afternoon.

On the earnings front, ITV shares surged almost 7% to the top of the Stoxx 600 after Britain's biggest free-to-air commercial broadcaster said a strong contribution to online revenue from reality show "Love Island" helped limit a fall in ad revenue to 5% for the first half of the year.

Deutsche Bank reported a weaker-than-expected net loss of 3.15 billion euros ($3.51 billion) for the second quarter of 2019 due to substantial strategic transformation charges of 3.4 billion euros. Deutsche Bank shares were down nearly 2%.

French carmaker Peugeot delivered a sharp increase in first-half profit, as new models and the integration of Opel-Vauxhall more than made up for weaker emerging-market sales. The group's share price rose by almost 2%.

Daimler said it would intensify cost cuts after legal risks for diesel-related issues and the cost of replacing Takata airbags triggered a 1.56 billion euros ($1.74 billion) loss before interest and taxes in the second quarter. Daimler shares recovered from early losses to trade nearly 3% higher.

Outside the main European blue chip index, Aston Martin shares plunged 24% after the British luxury carmaker issued a profit warning amid weakness in the U.K. and mainland Europe.

ECB decision in focus

On Wall Street, the Nasdaq Composite rose to an all-time high as earnings from Texas Instruments lifted chipmaker stocks and helped shake off regulatory concerns facing Big Tech.

Monetary policy is also in focus for traders, amid expectations that the European Central Bank (ECB) and the Federal Reserve could soon cut interest rates.

The ECB is seen cutting rates by 10 basis points on Thursday, with the U.S. central bank expected to lower rates by 25 basis points at the end of the month.

The prospect of a wave of policy stimulus appeared to soften the impact from the International Monetary Fund's (IMF) latest downgrade to its global growth forecasts.

The global economy is expected to expand by 3.2% in 2019, the fund said Tuesday. That's 0.1% lower than its previous forecast, as the Washington-based institute cited ongoing concerns about the U.S.-China trade war, Brexit and muted inflation rates.

Meanwhile in the U.K., Boris Johnson was officially appointed as the country's new prime minister. The new leader must now set about creating a Cabinet and appointing his immediate backroom staff. Sterling rose 0.4% against the dollar to $1.2491.