By Barbara Kollmeyer, MarketWatch
European stocks indexes were headed to fresh records on Wednesday, with sentiment lifted by reports of fewer coronavirus infections in China and upbeat earnings from companies such as Heineken Holding and Kering.
The Stoxx Europe 600 index /zigman2/quotes/210599654/delayed XX:SXXP +2.22% rose 0.4% to 430.17, after closing on Tuesday up 0.9% to 428.48, which marked a record close. The German DAX 30 index /zigman2/quotes/210597999/delayed DX:DAX +3.14% gained nearly 0.7% to 13715.39, after marking a new closing high on Tuesday of 13627.84, rising nearly 1%.
U.S. stock futures were pointing to a higher start and potentially fresh records, on the heels of record closes for the S&P 500 /zigman2/quotes/210599714/realtime SPX +1.60% and Nasdaq Composite /zigman2/quotes/210598365/realtime COMP +2.26% indexes, with investors reassured by signs of slowing coronavirus infections. China on Wednesday reported a second day of declining new cases, though there were 97 more deaths, pushing the total of those who have died from the disease to 1,113.
“Market sentiment is being significantly boosted as most investors and analysts now expect the impact of the deadly flu on economies to be short-lived and contained within [the first quarter],” said Pierre Veyret, technical analyst at ActivTrades.
He added that traders are also welcoming the way China handled the crisis financially with cash injections, “and this has helped keep market confidence in place.”
Among stocks on the move, shares of Heineken Holding /zigman2/quotes/205347870/delayed NL:HEIA +3.21% jumped over 5% after the brewer edged past forecasts with a 14% rise in 2019 profit, and projected mid-single digit organic operating profit growth for the year. The company added that it was too soon to assess any impact from the coronavirus.
“After a lackluster year, the absence of any negative surprises in these results and good Q4 [fourth quarter] trading momentum maybe be seen as slightly reassuring for the shares today,” said Citi analysts Simon Hales and Jemima Benstead, in a note to clients.
Stock of luxury goods maker Kering /zigman2/quotes/204653408/delayed FR:KER +1.50% rose 2% after the company reported a strong rise in fourth-quarter revenue, with an 11% sales gain in its biggest label Gucci.
Also climbing were shares of Akzo Nobel /zigman2/quotes/209835399/delayed NL:AKZA +1.50% , up 3% after the Dutch paints company reported a slip in net income and a revenue fall, but said raw-material costs would have a slightly favorable impact on the first half of 2020.
Leading the downside were shares of ABN AMRO /zigman2/quotes/209088556/delayed NL:ABN +4.58% , which tumbled 6.5% after the Dutch bank disappointed with flat income and a drop in operating income for the fourth quarter. New guidance from the lender also suggested downside risk to consensus forecasts for 2020, said analysts at UBS.
Energy companies were higher as perceived risk assets such as oil and stocks rose on falling coronavirus infection rates in China.