By Steve Goldstein
A solid set of corporate earnings helped lift European stocks higher on Thursday.
The latest reading showing core U.S. prices were flat in January helped quell talk about possible inflation coming from the Biden administration’s proposed $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package for the world’s largest economy. “With the green light from the inflation data, Joe Biden could easily defend his $1.9 trillion stimulus package in Senate, while the Fed continues massive bond purchases and its near-zero rate policy a couple of more years,” said Ipek Ozkardeskaya, senior analyst at Swissquote.
Corporate earnings were generally well-received.
AstraZeneca /zigman2/quotes/203048482/delayed UK:AZN -0.85% /zigman2/quotes/200304487/composite AZN -1.04% shares edged up 2%, after the U.K.-Swedish pharmaceutical reported smaller earnings but stronger revenue than expected, declared a steady dividend, and guided for low-teens percentage growth in revenue this year. “Some of these numbers have come in below analyst expectations, however with the share price down over 15% over the last three months, one has to question whether these minor misses will matter that much,” said Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets U.K.
Royal Mail /zigman2/quotes/204213037/delayed UK:RMG -0.20% shares surged 6%, after lifting its operating profit target due to increased online-shopping deliveries.
Crédit Agricole /zigman2/quotes/209264506/delayed FR:ACA -0.03% shares rose 5%, as the French bank reported a surprise fourth-quarter profit, though it was 93% lower than a year ago.
Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield /zigman2/quotes/207218984/delayed NL:URW -1.76% shares tumbled 14%, after the shopping-mall operator said it was suspending dividends for three years as adjusted earnings per share dropped 41% last year.