Europe Markets

European markets close higher as traders monitor earnings; Heineken shares up 5%

Key Points
  • On the earnings front, AkzoNobel, Heineken, Randstad and Roche were among the companies reporting on Wednesday.
  • Heineken shares climbed 4.8% after its trading update pointed to better-than-expected beer volumes for the first quarter.
  • In terms of economic data, U.K. inflation ticked higher in March, rising to 0.7% having slid to just 0.4% in February.

LONDON — European stocks closed higher on Wednesday, as investors digested earnings reports and economic data along with rising Covid-19 cases globally.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 index ended the session up 0.7% after a choppy trading session. Retail stocks jumped 1.8% to lead gains with most sectors and major bourses in positive territory.

On the earnings front, AkzoNobel, Heineken, Randstad and Roche were among the companies reporting on Wednesday.

Heineken shares climbed almost 5% after its trading update pointed to better-than-expected beer volumes for the first quarter.

French luxury group Kering, Swedish telecoms firm Ericsson and Dutch chipmaker ASML all climbed around 4% after beating first-quarter profit expectations. French retailer Carrefour rose 5% after announcing a share buyback following strong first-quarter earnings.

At the bottom of the European blue-chip index, French insurer CNP Assurances fell 5.3%.

On Wall Street, U.S. stocks rose led by a rebound in cyclical names as equities tried to recover from two straight days of losses.

Investors continued to monitor coronavirus developments Wednesday. India's coronavirus situation remains severe, with 259,170 new daily infections registered on Tuesday. The World Health Organization warned Friday that global Covid infection rate is approaching its highest level ever, and fears of a return to lockdown measures have caused global stock markets to wobble in recent sessions.

In terms of economic data, U.K. inflation ticked higher in March, rising to 0.7% having slid to just 0.4% in February.

"The UK has reached a turning point in its economic reaction to the pandemic where price growth is now on an upward trajectory, and should remain so for some time to come," said Paul Craig, portfolio manager at Quilter Investors.

"From here, inflation may tick markedly higher if the steady drip of consumer spending morphs into a waterfall as lockdown restrictions are lifted and households spend some of their accumulated pandemic savings."

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