By Mark Cobley
Getty Images for Vulture Festival
European indexes gained ground on Wednesday morning, with positive results and outlooks from chemicals manufacturer Akzo Nobel, Dutch brewer Heineken and French asset manager Amundi helping to lift sentiment.
How are markets performing?
The Stoxx Europe 600 /zigman2/quotes/210599654/delayed XX:SXXP -0.36% rose 0.4% to 364.1 on Wednesday morning, putting it on course for a third consecutive day of gains.
Italy’s MIB index /zigman2/quotes/210598024/delayed IT:I945 -0.41% led the region, up 0.7% to 19944.8, while the U.K.’s FTSE /zigman2/quotes/210598409/delayed UK:UKX -0.80% climbed 0.5% to 7165.9 and Germany’s DAX /zigman2/quotes/210597999/delayed DX:DAX -0.38% index also rose about 0.5% to 11173.2.
The euro was slightly down at $1.1325 /zigman2/quotes/210561242/realtime/sampled EURUSD +0.1090% , and the British pound /zigman2/quotes/210561263/realtime/sampled GBPUSD +0.2179% also fell, by 0.04% to $1.2885.
What’s driving the markets?
In the U.S., President Donald Trump said he was willing to postpone next month’s deadline for imposing further 25% tariffs on trade with China “if we’re close to a deal”. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer are due to arrive Thursday for further discussions, and Chinese President Xi Jinping may meet with key members of the U.S. delegation on Friday, according to the South China Morning Post .
Trump also said Tuesday that a second U.S. government shutdown is unlikely. Meanwhile, in the U.K., investors had a tidbit of positive Brexit news to digest after a senior adviser to Prime Minister Theresa May let slip plans for a possible delay to the country’s EU departure. In Spain, the country’s minority government could be forced into a snap general election if it loses a key budget vote today.
What shares are active?
Europe’s biggest gainer on the day was French payment-technology firm Ingenico Group /zigman2/quotes/202185911/delayed FR:ING -0.78% , whose shares rose 7.5% to €51.18 after it announced a turnaround plan on February 12. Net profits fell 26% in 2018, with the firm’s new CEO admitting it had been a “challenging year”.
Other big gainers included Nordic tobacconist Swedish Match AB /zigman2/quotes/204812015/delayed SE:SWMA +0.42% , whose shares jumped more than 6% after it unveiled plans for expansion in the U.S., and online gambling company Kindred Group , up 6% after it reported a 13% rise in full-year profits.
Shares in Dutch chemicals group Akzo Nobel /zigman2/quotes/209835399/delayed NL:AKZA -0.05% gained 3.7% to €77.42 as investors took heart from a big profits boost and a €2.5bn share buyback programme. But shares in Swiss specialty chemicals maker Clariant AG /zigman2/quotes/208575719/delayed CH:CLN -0.10% dropped 3.4% after the firm reported a 2% drop in earnings in the fourth quarter, despite good results for 2018 as a whole.
Shares in Dutch brewing group Heineken /zigman2/quotes/205347870/delayed NL:HEIA +0.22% , the world’s second-largest beer manufacturer, rose 5.4% after it reported a slight fall in profits but said it expected growth in 2019 despite an “uncertain” economy.
Europe’s largest asset manager, Amundi /zigman2/quotes/206804039/delayed FR:AMUN +0.22% , gained 4.6% after the firm reported higher earnings despite a fall in its invested assets in the fourth quarter.
But elsewhere in Europe’s financial sector, Dutch banking group ABN Amro /zigman2/quotes/209088556/delayed NL:ABN -1.55% was the biggest faller in the Stoxx 600. Its shares dropped 6.9% after it said profits dropped 42% in the fourth quarter, worse than analysts were expecting, thanks to a surge in loan impairments.
Also in the U.K., shares in homeware retailer Dunelm /zigman2/quotes/200625778/delayed UK:DNLM +0.55% gained 3.4% after it reported a 24% rise in profits for the six months to the end of 2018, but said it was stockpiling supplies against the risk of an acrimonious outcome from Brexit.