By Barbara Kollmeyer
Gains for banks and oil companies weren’t enough to keep European stocks in record territory on Wednesday, as U.S. equities also struggled.
The Stoxx Europe 600 index /zigman2/quotes/210599654/delayed XX:SXXP -3.67% slipped 0.2% to 434.28, following a 0.7% gain on Tuesday, which took it to a record close of 435.26.
The German DAX /zigman2/quotes/210597999/delayed DX:DAX -4.15% slipped 0.1% to 15,191.75, just shy of its record-setting finish of 15212.68, a gain of 0.7%, on Tuesday. The French CAC /zigman2/quotes/210597958/delayed FR:PX1 -4.75% gained 0.1%, while the FTSE 100 index /zigman2/quotes/210598409/delayed UK:UKX -3.64% stood out with a 0.9% rise, as the British pound /zigman2/quotes/210561263/realtime/sampled GBPUSD +0.1276% fell 0.5% against the dollar. The euro /zigman2/quotes/210561242/realtime/sampled EURUSD +0.9635% rose 0.2% against the greenback.
U.S. stocks /zigman2/quotes/210598065/realtime DJIA -2.53% /zigman2/quotes/210599714/realtime SPX -2.27% /zigman2/quotes/210598365/realtime COMP -2.23% were trading flat ahead of the minutes of the most recent Federal Open Market Committee meeting. Stocks finished weaker on Tuesday, even after the S&P 500 index hit a new intraday record.
Data out of Europe showed the final IHS Markit eurozone composite purchasing managers index revised up to 53.2 from a flash estimate of 52.5.
The survey indicates economies “weathered recent lockdowns far better thanmany had expected, thanks to resurgent manufacturing growth and signs that socialdistancing and mobility restrictions are having far less of an impact on service sector businesses than seen this time last year,” said Chris Williamson, chief business economist at IHS Markit, in a press release.
Shares of AstraZeneca /zigman2/quotes/203048482/delayed UK:AZN -1.14% /zigman2/quotes/200304487/composite AZN +0.43% fell 1.2%. The European Medicines Agency on Wednesday reported finding a “possible link” between the drug company’s COVID-19 vaccine and a blood clotting disorder. The regulator placed no restrictions on adults 18 and over, as it said benefits of the shot outweighed any potential risks.
Shares of Électricité de France /zigman2/quotes/201783867/delayed FR:EDF -4.66% led the way with a 10% gain after Reuters reported that the French government will spend around €10 billion ($11.87 billion) buying out minority shareholders in a bid to restructure the utility.
Shares of Royal Dutch Shell /zigman2/quotes/206428183/delayed UK:RDSA -5.66% /zigman2/quotes/205095589/composite RDS.A -4.91% climbed 0.5%. The energy giant warned that a fierce winter storm that hit Texas in February would hurt its first-quarter adjusted earnings by $200 million in a trading update.
Shell said adjusted earnings for its upstream unit, which deals with exploration and the production of oil, are expected to be positive in the first quarter, “capturing the upside from the current commodity price environment.” But analysts at RBC Capital Markets said the first-quarter outlook was disappointing.
Shares of rival BP /zigman2/quotes/202286639/delayed UK:BP -7.86% /zigman2/quotes/207305210/composite BP -6.11% climbed, continuing to gain from Tuesday after saying it would hit its net debt target almost a year earlier than expected . Those of Total gained over 1%.
Shares of Ryanair Holdings /zigman2/quotes/202851567/delayed UK:RYA -10.03% fell 2%, after the discount airline trimmed its expectations for a fiscal 2021 loss, but also lowered its forecast for fiscal 2022 traffic , in part due to the slow rollout of COVID-19 vaccinations in Europe.
Société Générale /zigman2/quotes/206663756/delayed FR:GLE -7.06% said it has entered into talks with French asset manager Amundi to sell asset-management activities operated by its Lyxor unit for €825 million ($979.6 million). The French bank’s shares rose 2%.
The banking sector was a leading gainer across the Stoxx 600, with shares of BNP Paribas /zigman2/quotes/206351084/delayed FR:BNP -5.86% and Banco Santander /zigman2/quotes/202859081/composite SAN -5.88% /zigman2/quotes/205677933/delayed ES:SAN -8.92% up 1% each.
Shares of Shop Apotheke Europe /zigman2/quotes/203563117/delayed XE:SAE +6.60% rose 1%, after the Dutch-based online-pharmacy group’s sales for the first quarter grew as the number of active customers rose steeply on-year.
Shares of Carnival /zigman2/quotes/210414141/delayed UK:CCL -16.04% /zigman2/quotes/200877079/composite CUK -11.30% climbed 4%, after a spokeswoman for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Jade Fulce, told Bloomberg on Tuesday that cruises could resume by midsummer on a restricted basis. That was after the U.S. Carnival arm threatened to take its ships to non-U.S. ports .
Deliveroo /zigman2/quotes/225812915/delayed UK:ROO +0.19% shares rose 3%, as unrestricted trading began with investors brushing off the food delivery company’s bleak initial public offering at the end of March. Shares of rival Just Eat Takeaway /zigman2/quotes/201653805/delayed NL:TKWY -2.70% rose nearly 5%.