- The pan-European Stoxx 600 ended the session up by 0.2%, with travel and leisure stocks gaining 1.3% while utilities fell about 0.7%.
- U.S. health authorities recommended pausing the distribution of Johnson & Johnson's Covid-19 vaccine due to concerns over rare blood clots.
- Major European firms from LVMH to Tesco reported their results on Wednesday.
LONDON — European markets eked out small gains by the close on Wednesday, as investors monitored corporate earnings and the progress of vaccine rollouts.
The pan-European Stoxx 600 ended the session up by 0.2%, with travel and leisure stocks gaining 1.3% while utilities fell about 0.7%.
Stocks in Europe received a mildly positive hangover from Asia-Pacific, where Chinese tech shares listed in Hong Kong bounced on Wednesday after 12 major companies signaled compliance with antitrust laws.
Investors were tracking the latest vaccine developments Wednesday. U.S. health authorities on Tuesday recommended pausing the distribution of Johnson & Johnson's Covid-19 vaccine after six women under the age of 50 developed rare blood clots after getting the inoculation. Johnson & Johnson announced that it would delay the vaccine's rollout in Europe, while South Africa also suspended its use.
Meanwhile, the European Commission announced a new deal with Pfizer and BioNTech to deliver 50 million additional doses of their shot in the second quarter. The extra vaccines were initially set to be delivered in the fourth quarter.
In corporate news, Credit Suisse told investors on Tuesday that $2.3 billion worth of its loans is exposed to ongoing uncertainties surrounding supply chain finance firm Greensill Capital.
Hawkish Bank of England Chief Economist Andy Haldane will step down from his various roles with the central bank after its June Monetary Policy Committee meeting, the Bank announced Tuesday.
On the data front, euro zone industrial fell 1% in February from the previous month, according to Eurostat figures published Wednesday. Economists polled by Reuters had expected a 1.1% monthly decline.
Earnings season got underway in earnest after the bell on Tuesday. French luxury goods group LVMH posted a sharp rebound in first-quarter earnings after the bell, bolstered by Chinese and American demand for Louis Vuitton handbags and Dior products. LVMH shares gained 2.9% by mid-afternoon on Wednesday.
German software giant SAP slightly raised its 2021 revenue outlook on Tuesday after first-quarter earnings showed robust progress in cloud sales, sending shares 1.1% higher.
British supermarket chain Tesco reported a 14.7% fall in annual profit before the bell, though sales remained resilient. Tesco shares slid 2%.
Meanwhile, budget airline EasyJet said it expects a fiscal first-half headline loss before tax of between £690 million ($950.6 million) and £730 million, but projected an uptick in flights from late May. EasyJet shares added 5.8%.
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