Europe Markets

European stocks close higher with euro zone data in focus; Adidas and Puma shares rise

Key Points
  • Euro zone business activity growth slowed in September.
  • IHS Markit's preliminary euro zone composite purchasing manager's index (PMI) reading coming in below expectations at 50.1, down from 51.9 in August.

European stocks closed higher Wednesday as investors reacted to key data releases from the euro zone and weighed up the possibility of further stimulus measures for the region.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 closed 0.7% higher provisionally, with travel and leisure stocks bouncing 2.3% as most sectors and major bourses held in positive territory.

Euro zone business activity growth slowed in September, with IHS Markit's preliminary euro zone composite purchasing managers' index (PMI) reading coming in below expectations at 50.1, down from 51.9 in August. A reading above 50 represents expansion.

The services sector went into reverse in September, offsetting the strongest monthly manufacturing growth for two years, as governments across Europe reintroduced partial restrictions to curb a rise in coronavirus cases. 

Ahead of that data, Spain revised its second-quarter GDP (gross domestic product) contraction to 17.8% quarter-on-quarter, less severe than the initial estimate of 18.5%. Meanwhile the U.K.'s flash composite PMI for September came in at 55.7, below expectations of 56.3 and down from 59.1 in August.

Stateside, stocks fell Wednesday as Wall Street's September struggles continued, and as tech shares slipped once again.

Coronavirus developments are weighing on sentiment, with U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Tuesday reversing the lifting of some lockdown measures in England. That came following a surge in coronavirus cases in the country, with mainland Europe also seeing a sharp rise in infections.

Cases in the U.S. have also started to trend upward following weeks of declines, though some health experts say it's too early to tell whether the upward trend will continue. The virus has taken more than 200,000 lives in the country.

Biggest movers

British technical products company Diploma saw its stock surge nearly 27% by the close, after raising £190 million ($241 million) in a share placing. 

Adidas shares climbed over 4% and fellow German sportswear brand Puma also added 4%, buoyed by a strong earnings report from U.S. rival Nike. French engineering group Alten jumped more than 9%.

At the bottom of the European blue-chip index, Swedish refrigeration and air conditioning wholesaler Beijer Ref tumbled almost 9% after U.S. group Carrier reduced its stake in the firm.