Europe Markets

European stocks close higher with earnings and lockdown easing in focus; Wirecard down 26%

Key Points
  • Oil prices slid 20%, extending Monday's nearly 25% decline amid ongoing fears that storage around the world is rapidly filling.
  • Corporate earnings came from BP, Santander, UBS, Novartis and Carrefour, among others on Tuesday.

European markets closed higher higher Tuesday as investors reacted to volatility in oil markets and a host of corporate earnings.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 provisionally closed about 1.5% higher, with bank stocks jumping 4.6% to lead gains as most sectors and all the major bourses traded in positive territory.

Global oil markets are focused on oil prices, which pared earlier losses by the afternoon. West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. oil benchmark, saw futures contracts for June delivery fall over 5% to trade at around $12.10 a barrel.

Earlier in the day, U.S. oil prices had slid almost 20%, extending Monday's nearly 25% decline amid ongoing fears that storage around the world is rapidly filling.

On Wall Street, stocks gave back their earlier gains on Tuesday as a decline in tech shares offset some of the enthusiasm around the prospect of certain states reopening.

The coronavirus pandemic remains the key news for markets, as economies around the world begin to draw up tentative plans to reopen in the hope that the spread of the virus is passing its peak.

More than 3 million people are now reported to have been infected by the coronavirus around the world and over 200,000 have died, according to Johns Hopkins University.  Follow our live updates on the pandemic here.

Earnings in focus

HSBC, Europe's largest bank, said on Tuesday that its pretax profit fell 48% year-over-year to $3.229 billion in the first quarter of 2020, while revenue dropped by 5% to $13.686 billion. The bank's London-listed shares climbed about 1%.

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BP missed profit expectations to post a first-quarter underlying replacement cost profit, used as a proxy for net profit, of $800 million. That compared with $2.4 billion in the first quarter of 2019, reflecting a fall of 67%. The oil giant's stock edged 2.6% higher.

UBS shares climbed 7% after the Swiss lender posted a 40% increase in profit for the first quarter of 2020 on the year before, with net profit attributable to shareholders coming in at $1.6 billion.

Santander, the euro zone's second-largest bank by market value, reported an 82% year-on-year decline in first-quarter net profit on the back of higher provisions for expected credit losses from the coronavirus outbreak. The Spanish bank's shares gained 4.8%.

Biggest movers

Cinema operator Cineworld was the best performer among individual stock moves Tuesday, jumping 17%. Games Workshop shares also gained, adding more than 9% after the company estimated pre-tax profit for the year ending May 31 2020 would be no less than £70 million.

At the other end of the European benchmark, German payment company Wirecard tumbled more than 26% after the release of a KPMG report into its accounting practices, which found no suspicious activity but highlighted uncertainty around significant revenues from three third parties.