Europe Markets

European shares close 2% higher as more lockdown restrictions are lifted; oil firms up 6%

Key Points
  • The pan-European Stoxx 600 closed over 2% higher provisionally, with all sectors and major bourses in positive territory.
  • Investors are paying close attention to coronavirus developments and the lifting of restrictions in many countries in the region.
  • Total posted a 35% drop in first-quarter profits, but exceeded analyst expectations, sending the oil major's shares 8% higher.

European stocks closed sharply higher on Tuesday as investors took stock of the gradual opening of economies in Europe and beyond.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 closed over 2% higher provisionally, with all sectors and major bourses in positive territory. Oil and gas shares were the best performers, up more than 6%.

European markets are paying close attention to coronavirus developments and the lifting of restrictions in many countries in the region, while keeping an eye on the data. More than 252,000 people around the world have died from Covid-19 and over 3.6 million people have been infected, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

A top German court on Tuesday determined that the European Central Bank's government bond purchase program partially violates the law. The quantitative easing program, which ran between 2015 and 2018 and was reinstated late last year, was designed to shore up the euro zone economy by keeping borrowing costs low. However, the decision will not impact the emergency bond purchase measures deployed by the ECB to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. 

On Wall Street, stocks rose sharply on Tuesday as investors bet the U.S. economy could start to reopen again. Oil prices also increased for a fifth straight day.

Earnings in focus

In terms of corporate earnings, BNP Paribas reported a net income of 1.3 billion euros ($1.42 billion) for the first three months of the year, down 33% from the same period in 2019. The French lender's stock climbed around 4%.

Total posted a first-quarter net profit of $1.8 billion, down 35% from a year ago but exceeding analyst expectations and sending the oil major's shares 8% higher.

At the top of the Stoxx 600, Spanish fossil fuel company Repsol jumped 13% as it beat earnings expectations while German meal delivery firm Hellofresh climbed almost 10% on the back of strong results that were boosted by rising demand for food delivery.

At the other end of the European benchmark, Swedish real estate firm SBB saw its shares plummet almost 19% after it said its CEO had been detained for allegedly violating market abuse regulations.

- CNBC's Fred Imbert, Yun Li and Eustance Huang contributed to this story.