(Reuters) – European shares rose on Wednesday as upbeat earnings reports from firms including SocGen helped boost optimism around a broader economic rebound, while shipping company Maersk slumped after its quarterly profit missed estimates.
France’s Societe Generale jumped 3.3% after beating profit forecasts for the fourth quarter due to lower-than-expected charges related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Maersk, the world’s largest container shipping line, slumped 7.1% as it missed analysts’ lofty forecasts for the end of last year and gave a more cautious outlook for 2021.
The pan-European STOXX 600 index rose 0.3%, with commodity-linked shares and utility stocks leading the gains.
Most European indices climbed in morning trading, while Asian stocks scaled record highs earlier in the session as investors also looked to signs of progress around the proposed $1.9 trillion U.S. stimulus bill. [MKTS/GLOB]
“There is optimism that there will be some sort of U.S. stimulus plan, while company results are hinting towards a good corporate story as we go ahead with the earnings season,” said Michael Hewson, an analyst at CMC Markets UK.
Historic monetary and fiscal stimulus has helped the STOXX 600 rally about 45% since crashing to multi-year lows in March 2020, and the index is now just 5% below its all-time high as hopes build of a faster economic recovery this year.
Data on Wednesday showed an annual rise in China’s factory gate prices in January for the first time in a year, as months of strong manufacturing growth in the world’s second-largest economy pushed raw material costs higher.
Export-laden German shares were flat by 0937 GMT after rising as much as 0.4%.
German conglomerate Thyssenkrupp added 4.8% after it raised its full-year outlook on improved demand, while online takeaway food company Delivery Hero was flat after reporting a 95% surge in annual revenue.
Dutch Bank ABN Amro dropped 3.3% even as it posted a better-than-expected fourth-quarter net profit.
Shares of state-controlled French power group EDF gained 0.8% after its head defended a planned restructuring of the company, dubbed “Project Hercules”, even as a spat grows between France and the European Union over the future of the company.
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