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European stocks shrug off trade rhetoric; Galapagos soars

Stock MarketsSep 12, 2018 05:12AM ET
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© Reuters. The German share price index DAX graph at the stock exchange in Frankfurt

By Helen Reid

LONDON (Reuters) - Oil and mining stocks led European shares higher on Wednesday as investors shrugged off a weaker session in Asia amid rising tensions between the United States and China.

The pan-European STOXX 600 (STOXX) and eurozone STOXX (STOXXE) were both up 0.5 percent by 0845 GMT, despite declines by Asian stocks after President Donald Trump said the United States was taking a "tough stance" with China on trade.

Oil stocks (SXEP) rose 1.6 percent after a drop in U.S. crude inventories pushed crude prices higher. Mining shares (SXPP) climbed 1.5 percent.

"We think it is likely that the equity market sell-off, particularly in the European time zone, will slow down or even temporarily reverse," said RBC strategists.

"While 'trade frictions' and a perception of slowing Asian markets as a result are easy culprits, there seems to be a lot of risk priced in at this stage too," they said.

Dutch biotech firm Galapagos (AS:GLPG) soared 16.7 percent to the top of the STOXX after positive trial results for a drug to treat rheumatoid arthritis.

Shares in Zara owner Inditex (MC:ITX) rose 2.9 percent to the top of Spain's IBEX (IBEX) after the fashion retailer said it expected profit margin growth in the second half.

Salvatore Ferragamo (MI:SFER) topped Italy's FTSE MIB (FTMIB) with a 5.2 percent rise. Traders cited rumors of a potential takeover. The family that controls the fashion group is not interested in selling its stake, a spokeswoman for the group said.

Hermes (PA:HRMS) shares rose 2 percent after the French handbag maker reported record first-half margins.

"Hermes delivered a solid set of results... Importantly, the company noted a positive contribution to profits from strong demand in China," Berenberg analysts wrote.

British energy provider SSE (L:SSE) sank 8 percent after it warned first-half profit would halve compared with last year, calling its financial performance "disappointing and regrettable".

Centrica (L:CNA), another power company, fell 3.1 percent.

Hexpol (ST:HPOLb) shares rose 5.4 percent after the Swedish chemicals company said it acquired U.S. rubber compounder Kirkhill Rubber.

Shares in payments processor Adyen (AS:ADYEN) rose 5.6 percent after the recently listed Dutch company said it has selected data platform company Looker to help grow its business.

Broker research moved some stocks. German utility E.ON (DE:EONGn) fell 2.5 percent to the bottom of the DAX after Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS) analysts cut their target price on the stock.

Swiss chocolate maker Barry Callebaut (S:BARN) gained 6.3 percent after UBS analysts upgraded the stock to "neutral" from "sell".

"We undertook some supply chain checks and think Barry could sign new contracts soon, benefiting its volume growth in the next 12-18 months," UBS analysts wrote.

Overall, however, analysts are lowering earnings outlooks for MSCI Europe companies, as the second-quarter earnings season ends and investor attention turns to political risk.

European stocks shrug off trade rhetoric; Galapagos soars

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