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European Stocks Mixed; Renault Slumps

Stock MarketsFeb 19, 2021 03:56AM ET
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By Peter Nurse - European stock markets were mixed Friday, with the U.K. underperforming after weak retail sales data, while investors also digested a number of corporate results, including from Renault and Hermes.

At 3:55 AM ET (0855 GMT), the DAX in Germany traded 0.3% higher, the CAC 40 in France rose 0.3%, while the U.K.'s FTSE index was 0.1% lower.

British retail sales slumped in January, falling 8.2% on the month, as non-essential shops went back into lockdowns. This was the second largest fall on record after the drop in April 2020, at the start of the pandemic, and indicative of the damage Britain’s service-based economy is suffering.

The economic news wasn’t all bad, as German economic activity expanded for an eighth month, with manufacturing growing at the fastest pace in three years, according to IHS Markit.

French factories also reported the quickest expansion since early 2018, though the private-sector economy shrank overall.

In corporate news, Renault (PA:RENA) stock fell 3.2% after the French carmaker posted a record annual loss of 8 billion euros ($9.68 billion), CEO Luca de Meo also said that ""2021 is set to be difficult given the unknowns regarding the health crisis as well as electronic components supply shortages."

Volkswagen (DE:VOWG_p) stock rose 2.2% to its highest in over a year, after a report saying it's looking at spinning off its most valuable brand, Porsche, to unlock value.

Hermes International (OTC:HESAF) stock rose 5.8% after the luxury goods maker said sales recovered sharply in the fourth quarter, in a sharp contrast to rival Kering  (OTC:PPRUY), which reported disappointed sales at its flagship brand Gucci earlier this week.

In the insurance sector, Allianz (DE:ALVG) stock rose 0.9% after the German insurer posted a better-than-expected 2.2% fall in net profit in the fourth quarter from a year earlier. Swiss Re (OTC:SSREY) stock was largely flat despite the reinsurer recording a net loss for 2020. 

Attention may also be drawn to a virtual meeting of the Group of Seven leaders, chaired by U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson. The leaders, who will include both U.S. President Joe Biden and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi for the first time, are expected to discuss the battered world economy as well as the group’s relationship with China, along with plans to defeat the novel coronavirus, .

Oil prices retreated Friday from 13-month highs: wells in Texas, the U.S.’s biggest oil-producing state, have started to resume production as the week’s unexpected wintry snap passed. The focus is shifting to the impact on refineries amid worries they will take time to resume operations, creating a gap in demand which will likely lead to builds in crude stocks over coming weeks.

U.S. crude stockpiles fell more than expected last week, before the freeze, with inventories down by 7.3 million barrels to their lowest level since March, the Energy Information Administration said Thursday.

U.S. crude futures traded 1.8% lower at $59.42 a barrel, while the international benchmark Brent contract fell 1.4% to $63.03.

Elsewhere, gold futures fell 0.1% to $1,773.10/oz, while EUR/USD traded 0.3% higher at 1.2128.


European Stocks Mixed; Renault Slumps

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