European stocks higher; corporate earnings in focus
By Peter Nurse
Investing.com - European stock markets traded higher Wednesday, boosted by relatively dovish comments from Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell as well as generally healthy corporate earnings.
At 03:55 ET (08:55 GMT), the DAX index in Germany traded 0.5% higher, the CAC 40 in France gained 0.3%, while the FTSE 100 in the U.K. climbed 0.6%.
European stocks have benefited from the strong gains on Wall Street overnight after Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell struck a less hawkish tone than feared during a speech at the Economic Club of Washington D.C.
Powell stated that the U.S. was experiencing disinflation after a series of sharp interest rate hikes through 2022. While he also warned that further rate increases are still appropriate, investors have taken his comments optimistically as they look for signs that the Fed is getting close to pausing its rate increases.
Back in Europe, the quarterly earnings season has continued in full flow.
Societe Generale (EPA: SOGN ) stock fell 0.8% after France's third-biggest bank reported a 64% drop in annual profits in 2022, even while posting a higher-than-expected profit in the fourth quarter.
The lender also warned that it expects a year of "transition" in 2023 as the benefit of cheap funding from the European Central Bank falls away.
Equinor (OL: EQNR ) stock rose 6.6% after the Norwegian oil and gas producer posted a record $74.9 billion adjusted operating profit for 2022, more than double its previous record thanks to soaring gas prices.
Maersk (CSE: MAERSKb ) stock rose 2.5% after the shipping giant reported record earnings in 2022. The Danish company, however, warned lower container volumes and freight rates would drive a plunge in profits this year.
Barratt Developments (LON: BDEV ) stock rose 0.7% after the U.K.’s biggest housebuilder raised its guidance for full-year completions due to signs of improvement in the U.K. housing market in January.
Oil prices traded higher Wednesday, helped by bullish inventory data from the American Petroleum Institute , adding to recent gains on optimism over the recovery in demand from China, the largest crude importer in the world.
The industry group showed crude stocks fell by about 2.2 million barrels in the week ended Feb. 3, defying expectations of growth of 2.5 million barrels.
The official inventory data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration are due later in the session.
By 03:55 ET, U.S. crude futures traded 1.2% higher at $78.07 a barrel, while the Brent contract rose 1% to $84.56. Both contracts are up close to 4% this month to date.
Additionally, gold futures rose 0.6% to $1,895.90/oz, while EUR/USD traded 0.3% higher at 1.0751.
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