By Barbara Kollmeyer
European stocks struggled for traction on Wednesday, as investors mulled concerns over COVID-19 vaccines and looked toward the start of earnings season. Shares of SAP and LVMH Moet Hennessey and easyJet climbed on well-received results.
The Stoxx Europe 600 index /zigman2/quotes/210599654/delayed XX:SXXP +1.09% inched up 0.1% to 436.33, after a modest move up on Tuesday. The German DAX /zigman2/quotes/210597999/delayed DX:DAX +1.00% was flat, the FTSE 100 /zigman2/quotes/210598409/delayed UK:UKX +0.85% rose 0.1%, while the French CAC 40 /zigman2/quotes/210597958/delayed FR:PX1 +1.35% rose 0.4%.
U.S. stock futures /zigman2/quotes/209948968/delayed ES00 -0.09% /zigman2/quotes/210407078/delayed YM00 -0.09% /zigman2/quotes/210219788/delayed NQ00 -0.04% inched higher, following Tuesday’s mostly higher close, with a fresh record for the S&P 500 /zigman2/quotes/210599714/realtime SPX +1.01% and a 1% gain for the Nasdaq Composite /zigman2/quotes/210598365/realtime COMP +1.04% .
Investors have been absorbing some disappointment on the vaccine front after U.S. health authorities on Tuesday advised a temporary halt of Johnson & Johnson’s /zigman2/quotes/201724570/composite JNJ +1.06% one-shot COVID inoculation due to “extremely rare” blood-clotting issues in six women. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices is expected to hold an emergency meeting to discuss J&J’s vaccine later on Wednesday.
Those officials said the cases were similar to blood clots detected in a small number of people in Europe who were immunized with AstraZeneca’s /zigman2/quotes/200304487/composite AZN +0.47% /zigman2/quotes/203048482/delayed UK:AZN +0.25% shot. Johnson & Johnson is pausing its rollout in Europe, which has been struggling to bring its vaccination program up to speed.
Investors are turning to the start of earnings season, with banks JP Morgan /zigman2/quotes/205971034/composite JPM -0.19% , Goldman Sachs /zigman2/quotes/209237603/composite GS +0.36% and Wells Fargo /zigman2/quotes/203790192/composite WFC -0.98% all reporting ahead of Wall Street’s open.
Europe earnings also trickled in, with shares of SAP /zigman2/quotes/207905606/composite SAP -0.40% /zigman2/quotes/202053813/delayed XE:SAP -1.01% up 4.2% and near the top of Stoxx 600 gainers after preliminary first-quarter result s beat forecasts and 2021 guidance was slightly higher, as license revenue rebounded and the German business software maker saw a sharp rise in new cloud business.
“The results are likely to alleviate some pessimism; investors will want to understand to what extent new cloud bookings grew and the pace of cloud transition,” said a team of Jefferies analysts led by Julian Serafini, in a note to clients.
Not far behind were shares of easyJet /zigman2/quotes/202825892/delayed UK:EZJ +0.39% after the low-cost airline said its headline pretax loss for the first half of fiscal 2021 came in slightly better than expectations. Second quarter cash burn — a measure of how quickly a company is spending money — came in above guidance.
And shares of LVMH Moet-Hennessy /zigman2/quotes/206499835/delayed IT:LVMH +2.03% rose 2.6% after consensus-beating first-quarter sales driven by strong performance by flagship brands. In the first period marking the integration of U.S. jeweler Tiffany, LVMH’s watches and jewelry segment saw organic revenue growth of 35%, while core fashion, including Louis Vuitton and Dior labels, posted growth of 52%. Shares of Compagnie Financiere Richemont /zigman2/quotes/203783259/delayed CH:CFR +2.74% were also up over 2%.
Leading decliners were shares of Tesco /zigman2/quotes/203761082/delayed UK:TSCO +1.08% , which fell 3% after the grocery chain reported a fall in pretax profit for fiscal 2021 , driven by pandemic-fueled costs. The company said it expects improved profitability for the year ahead on reduced spending.
Credit Suisse /zigman2/quotes/202835784/composite CS +0.90% /zigman2/quotes/205269278/delayed CH:CSGN +1.00% shares fell 1.2%. The Swiss banking giant on Tuesday flagged around $2.3 billion in problematic loans in its Greensill Capital funds.