By Barbara Kollmeyer
Stocks were pushing higher in Europe, with U.S. equity futures also pointing to gains later for Wall Street, a day after investors got spooked by comments from Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen. Earnings news drove shares of A.P. Moeller-Maersk and Merck KGaA higher.
The Stoxx Europe 600 index /zigman2/quotes/210599654/delayed XX:SXXP -0.57% climbed 1.2% to 438.96, after a 1.4% drop on Tuesday, its biggest one-day decline since April 20. The German DAX /zigman2/quotes/210597999/delayed DX:DAX -0.61% gained 1.3%, the French CAC 40 /zigman2/quotes/210597958/delayed FR:PX1 -0.44% rose 0.9%, and the FTSE 100 index /zigman2/quotes/210598409/delayed UK:UKX -0.10% rose 0.9%.
U.S. stock futures /zigman2/quotes/209948968/delayed ES00 -0.09% /zigman2/quotes/210407078/delayed YM00 -0.02% /zigman2/quotes/210219788/delayed NQ00 -0.19% rose after a bumpy day for stocks, with the Nasdaq Composite /zigman2/quotes/210598365/realtime COMP -1.92% seeing its worst one-day fall since March, and the Dow industrials /zigman2/quotes/210598065/realtime DJIA -0.17% eking by with a gain.
Technology stocks have largely been in favor since the COVID-19 pandemic began, but reopenings in the U.S. and elsewhere as vaccines take hold have pushed investors toward value stocks, which are geared more toward the economy. But lately, stronger growth expectations are also sparking worries of higher inflation, and a potential tapping of the brakes by central banks.
In an interview with The Atlantic magazine, Yellen said interest rates would possibly need to rise to keep the economy from running too hot, though later at a Wall Street Journal event, she walked back those comments. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell most recently said the recovery in the U.S. remains uneven.
“The fact is that the cat is out of the bag, and everyone is going to have their doubts about the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy now,” said Naeem Aslam, chief market analyst at AvaTrade, in a note to clients. “Traders are going to continue to have their doubts about any new possible dovish comments from the Fed. This could result in much higher volatility in the equity, forex, commodity, and fixed-income markets.”
It was a busy earnings day in Europe. Aker Solutions /zigman2/quotes/201093640/delayed NO:AKSO +2.09% backed its full-year guidance , after swinging to an surprise first-quarter net profit. Shares of the energy-industry service provider jumped over 5%.
Stock in A.P. Moeller-Maersk /zigman2/quotes/208739220/delayed DK:MAERSK.A +0.37% climbed over 3%, after the shipping giant said it would accelerate its share buyback program and launch a new program of up to 31 billion Danish kroner ($5.01 billion). Rising demand and freight rates have propelled the company’s earnings and cash flow higher, the company said.
Merck KGaA /zigman2/quotes/209909728/delayed XE:MRK +0.52% lifted its 2021 outlook late on Tuesday, after a “very strong” first quarter and high demand for its product, a trend the German pharmaceuticals-and-chemicals company sees continuing this year. Shares rose 3%.
Shares of Vestas Wind Systems /zigman2/quotes/205019303/delayed DK:VWS -2.17% rose over 2%, as the wind turbine maker posted an unexpected first-quarter net loss, but backed full-year guidance as it pledged to make up lost ground later this year.
Danish pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk /zigman2/quotes/203484366/composite NVO +0.41% lifted its full-year guidance and increased share buybacks, after posting a forecast-beating rise in first-quarter net profit. Shares rose around 2%.
Tech names were also bouncing, with shares of chip group ams /zigman2/quotes/204183137/delayed AT:AMS -1.72% up nearly 4% and ASML Holding /zigman2/quotes/210293876/composite ASML -2.26% /zigman2/quotes/206208657/delayed NL:ASML -1.38% up 3%.
Stellantis /zigman2/quotes/204248628/composite STLA -1.93% , the car maker formed by the Fiat Chrysler and PSA merger, reported stronger revenue for the first quarter, but said it expected a much bigger hit to production in the second quarter than the first due to the global semiconductor shortage. Shares of the world’s fourth biggest car maker rose just over 2%. Shares of auto maker Daimler /zigman2/quotes/201850364/delayed XE:DAI -0.56% fell 2.5%.
Deutsche Post /zigman2/quotes/202220300/delayed DE:DPWA -0.95% said net profit and revenue for the first quarter was boosted by strong momentum in global e-commerce and a recovery in world trade. Shares of the German freight-and-logistics group rose over 2%.
Solvay /zigman2/quotes/208629835/delayed BE:SOLB -0.30% posted a decline in net profit and sales in the first quarter , and said it expects underlying earnings for the full year to be higher compared with 2020. Shares of the Belgian chemical company rose 2.6%.