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European shares touch fresh two-year highs on earnings boost

Published 01/30/2024, 04:01 AM
Updated 01/30/2024, 12:11 PM
© Reuters. The German share price index DAX graph is pictured at the stock exchange in Frankfurt, Germany, January 29, 2024.     REUTERS/Staff

By Shashwat Chauhan and Shristi Achar A

(Reuters) -European shares closed slightly higher after hitting fresh two-year highs on Tuesday, as investors drew comfort from upbeat corporate updates, while France's blue-chip stock index hit a new record peak.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index closed up 0.2% in its fifth straight session of gains, while France's CAC 40 index ended up 0.5%, touching record highs during the day.

Banks were among the top advancing sectors, adding 1.8%, lifted by a 6.2% increase in BBVA (BME:BBVA) after the Spanish lender's fourth-quarter net profit jumped 32%.

Finnish retailer Kesko surged 8.1% after beating fourth-quarter profit estimates, while Danish medical equipment maker Ambu advanced 6.5% following better-than-expected first-quarter earnings.

Automobiles also rose 1.1%, with Stellantis (NYSE:STLA) gaining 3.8% after its U.S. rival General Motors (NYSE:GM) gave investors an upbeat outlook for 2024.

Fourth quarter earnings for STOXX 600 companies are expected to decrease 8.5% on a yearly-basis, down from an expected 8.8% decrease last week, LSEG data showed.

Meanwhile in the United States, stock indexes had a tepid start to the day ahead of the Federal Reserve's monetary policy decision on Wednesday. [.N]

Geoff Yu, EMEA macro strategist at BNY Mellon (NYSE:BK), said the January meeting should be a non-event but "it's the March meeting that's going to be far more important ... we just don't think there should be too much 'risk' (for European investors) on the table heading into this meeting."

In Europe, Croatian policymaker Boris Vujcic said the exact date for the start of European Central Bank (ECB) rate cuts is secondary, but once the bank starts moving it is likely do it in small increments with possible pauses.

ECB governing council member Gabriel Makhlouf said the central bank should remain open minded about the path of interest rates.

On the data front, preliminary data shows that the French economy did not grow in the fourth quarter, in line with analyst expectations, while Spain's economy was a bright spot, expanding 0.6% in the quarter.

A broader reading of the euro zone showed the economy narrowly avoided a technical recession in the last three months of 2023. The German economy, meanwhile, shrank in the final quarter of last year, prompting economists to warn on Tuesday of another recession.

© Reuters. The German share price index DAX graph is pictured at the stock exchange in Frankfurt, Germany, January 29, 2024.     REUTERS/Staff

Among other movers, Hapag Lloyd dropped 9.6% after the German container shipper posted worse-than-expected fourth-quarter earnings as Red Sea attacks hit transport volumes.

Orsted (CSE:ORSTED) eased 4.4%, with traders pointing to a story in local media saying the Danish offshore wind project developer might announce a capital increase next week. Orsted declined to comment.

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