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Europe close: Stocks end up as euro weakens; Ericsson rallies on Q2 results

By Michele Maatouk

Date: Wednesday 18 Jul 2018

Europe close: Stocks end up as euro weakens; Ericsson rallies on Q2 results

(Sharecast News) - European stocks ended higher on Wednesday amid some well-received earnings and as the dollar continued to dominate the single currency, with tech shares leading the gains.
The Stoxx 600 benchmark index closed up 0.5% at 387.06, Germany's DAX rose 0.8% to 12,765.94 and France's CAC pushed up 0.5% to 5,447.44. Italy's FTSE MIB closed steady at 21,972.22 and Spain's Ibex gained 0.4% to 9,753.20.

By the time of the close, the euro was down 0.1% against the dollar at 1.1652, having been further in the red earlier in the day after slumping on Tuesday on the back of US Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell's comments to the Senate Banking Committee, where he restated his faith in the health of the US economy and further gradual rises in interest rates.

Powell said the potential threat to growth from rising protectionism is "difficult to predict" and the Fed still views the risks to growth as "roughly balanced".

Eurozone inflation figures provided no help for the European Central Bank, rising less than indicated in the preliminary release. The consumer price index fell to 0.9% for June on an annual basis, from 1.0% in the initial reading.

Core CPI however was confirmed as having picked up to 2% year-on-year, as indicated in the preliminary release.

Meanwhile, car manufacturers were boosted by the prospect of negotiations to reduce tariffs, with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker travelling to Washington next week to push for negotiations to reduce automotive tariffs, Bloomberg reported.

Juncker is expected to signal that the bloc is willing to consider a 'plurilateral' sector deal to reduce car tariffs between Europe, the US and other major vehicle exporting nations.

Technology stocks were boosted by an overnight rally for Wall Street's tech sector and some positive news from European companies.

Ericsson surged after saying it swung to a surprise operating profit for the second quarter, boosted by improved US sales growth as its core Networks division from 5G rollout. After seven quarters in the red, the Swedish mobile telecom equipment group said the company expressed confidence in meeting its 2020 profitability targets.

Elsewhere in European tech, Dutch semiconductor specialist ASML Holding also ended sharply higher as it reported a 25% improvement in net profit for the second quarter, after 30% rise in sales came in better than expected. AMSL said it expects the second half to be stronger, with sales and profitability continuing to improve.

Pharma giant Novartis was on the front foot following its second-quarter numbers, which showed sales and profit growth beat forecasts.

Electrolux ended a choppy session in the green after the Swedish appliance manufacturer reported a 60% fall in net profit after booking a provision from a French antitrust probe. The company also warned that industry trends pointed to a softer market demand outlook for North America, Latin America and Australia, as higher input costs drive higher market prices.

On the downside, shares in Danske Bank dived after the leading Danish lender reported a 12% decline in second-quarter profit after tax and said its full-year earnings would be at the lower end of its previous guidance range. The Copenhagen-headquartered bank said net profits for the whole of 2018 were likely to be at the bottom end of the 18-20bn krone range.

Shares in De'Longhi were down as analysts at Kepler Chevreux downgraded it to 'hold' and cut its price target to €23.5, while Telenor slipped as HSBC cut its target to 150 krone from 170.

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