By Emily Horton
European markets gained on Thursday, as investors prepare for U.K. parliament’s next Brexit vote on whether to extend Britain's March 29 deadline to leave the European Union.
Investors were also digesting another round of industrial data from China that confirmed a slowdown in the country’s economy.
German airline Deutsche Lufthansa AG lost 5% after its fourth-quarter profits tumbled.
How did markets perform?
The Stoxx Europe 600 /zigman2/quotes/210599654/delayed XX:SXXP -0.49% added 0.5% to 377.43, after finishing up 0.6% on Wednesday evening.
The U.K.’s FTSE 100 /zigman2/quotes/210598409/delayed UK:UKX -0.44% climbed by 0.5% to 7,194.28 after finishing up 0.1% on Wednesday. The DAX /zigman2/quotes/210223310/composite DAX -0.07% was flat at 11,570.84, while France’s CAC 40 /zigman2/quotes/210597958/delayed FR:PX1 -0.54% gained 0.5% to 5,334.45.
Italy’s FTSE MIB index /zigman2/quotes/210598024/delayed IT:I945 -1.22% was the region’s biggest climber, adding 0.6% to 20,869.31.
On Wednesday evening the U.K. parliament voted against the prospect of a no-deal Brexit, leading to an overnight surge in the pound. However, by Thursday the pound /zigman2/quotes/210561263/realtime/sampled GBPUSD +0.0309% had given back some of those gains, falling 0.8% on the day to fetch $1.3230. The the euro /zigman2/quotes/210561242/realtime/sampled EURUSD -0.0092% slid slightly to $1.1303 from $1.1327.
What’s driving the markets?
The decision that the Britain should not leave the European Union without a withdrawal deal in place was welcomed by sterling traders. However, this vote doesn’t remove the risk of the U.K. crashing out of the EU completely, as it is a simple declaration by parliament.
“The fact is that it is comforting to know that no deal Brexit scenario is off the table, but at the same time there is no table. This is because May’s party is in more disarray and Brexit has become a laughing matter for everyone. Unfortunately, the law makers in the U.K. are like headless chickens with no clue which way to go. This element is going to keep the lid on the sterling price,” Naeem Aslam, chief market analyst, Think Markets U.K. told clients in a note.
U.K. lawmakers are set to vote again on Thursday, this time on whether to delay the scheduled departure on March 29th.
Meanwhile, markets were dismayed by industrial data out of China, released by the government on Thursday, which offered fresh evidence the country’s economy is slowing.
What stocks are active?
“The potential [for Cineworld] to make cost savings was always one of the main drivers of the Regal purchase and the company said today savings would be even better than previously expected at $150m this year. Better still for investors was the news that the dividend has been raised by 18% and will be paid in quarterly installments in the future” Ian Forrest, investment research analyst at The Share Centre said in a note to clients.
Meanwhile, heavyweight miner Royal Dutch Shell PLC /zigman2/quotes/206428183/delayed UK:RDSA -2.02% gained 1.5%.