European Markets Close Higher on Accelerating Business Activity; Rational Up 12%

Kai Pfaffenbac | Reuters
  • The pan-European Stoxx 600 ended up over 1.8%, with basic resources jumping 4.7% to lead gains as all sectors and major bourses closed in positive territory.
  • Euro zone business activity gathered pace in April, fueled by an expansion in the bloc's dominant services sector.
  • Euro zone producer prices rose 1.1% month-on-month in March, in line with expectations, Eurostat figures confirmed Wednesday.

LONDON — European stocks closed higher on Wednesday as investors digested a fresh round of corporate earnings and key economic data out of the euro zone.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 ended up over 1.8%, with basic resources jumping 4.7% to lead gains as all sectors and major bourses closed in positive territory.

Euro zone business activity gathered pace in April, fueled by an expansion in the bloc's dominant services sector. IHS Markit's final composite PMI (purchasing managers' index), a useful barometer of economic health, reading for April came in at 53.8 compared 53.2 in March. Anything above 50 represents expansion.

Euro zone producer prices rose 1.1% month-on-month in March, in line with expectations, Eurostat figures confirmed Wednesday.

U.S. markets were also trading higher on Wednesday, with the Nasdaq Composite edging 0.6% higher during early trade.

Back in Europe, it was another busy day for corporate earnings, with Stellantis, Allianz, Commerzbank and Deutsche Post DHL Group among those reporting before the bell.

Deutsche Post upped its financial guidance after more than tripling its first-quarter operating earnings, sending the stock 4.5% higher.

Stellantis posted a rise in first-quarter revenues to 37 billion euros ($44.5 billion), but warned that the global semiconductor shortage could have a heavier impact on production in the second quarter. The world's fourth-largest car company saw its shares gain 7% by the end of the session.

German kitchen appliance manufacturer Rational saw its shares jump 12.7% to lead the Stoxx 600 after its earnings report, while Vestas gained 8% after the Danish wind turbine giant reaffirmed its guidance despite reporting a first-quarter operating loss.

Meanwhile, Virgin Money U.K. fell 1.2% on the back of first-quarter results, while eye care product manufacturer Alcon led losses as it shed more than 5%.

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