European markets inch higher as investors digest earnings, Fed decision

  • Thursday's European trading session will be guided by another bumper day for corporate earnings. Credit Suisse, Shell, Total, Volkswagen and Airbus are just some of the big names reporting results.
  • Fed Chairman Jerome Powell cautioned in a press conference Wednesday that although the U.S. economy has made progress, it still has some way to go before the central bank would look to tighten its accommodative monetary policy stance.

LONDON — European stocks inched higher Thursday as investors digested a fresh round of major corporate earnings and the U.S. Federal Reserve's reiteration of its dovish policy stance.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 gained 0.3% in early trade, with oil and gas stocks jumping 1.8% after strong earnings from energy majors, while travel and leisure stocks slid 0.6%.

Shares in Asia-Pacific broadly advanced overnight as Hong Kong's Hang Seng index continued to rebound sharply from a two-day slump earlier in the week.

U.S. stock futures are pointing to a flat open after the Fed left interest rates and asset purchases unchanged. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell cautioned in a press conference Wednesday that although the economy has made progress, it still has some way to go before the central bank would look to tighten its accommodative monetary policy stance.

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Thursday's European trading session will be guided by another bumper day for corporate earnings. Credit Suisse, Royal Dutch Shell, TotalEnergies, Volkswagen and Airbus are just some of the big names reporting results.

Earnings in focus

Credit Suisse posted a net income of 253 million Swiss francs ($278.3 million) for the three-month period ending June, missing expectations in its own poll of analysts. The Swiss lender also announced that an investigation into its dealings with collapsed U.S. hedge fund Archegos Capital revealed multiple failings but no "fraudulent or illegal conduct."

Credit Suisse shares tumbled 4.1% in early trade.

Volkswagen upped its profit margin target for the second time in less than three months on the back of record earnings in the first half of the year, with Europe's largest carmaker now exceeding pre-pandemic levels. A consortium led by Volkswagen will also launch a 2.9 billion euro ($3.4 billion) tender offer for French car rental firm Europcar, the company announced Wednesday. Volkswagen shares slipped 1.3% lower.

Royal Dutch Shell reported that second-quarter profits soared to $5.5 billion on the back of higher oil and gas prices and recovering demand. The Anglo-Dutch energy major launched a $2 billion share buyback program and increased its dividend, prompting shares to rise 2.9% in early trade.

France's TotalEnergies also announced plans to buy back shares after reporting a jump in profits to $3.5 billion, sending shares 1.7% higher.

At the top of the Stoxx 600, Finnish telecoms giant Nokia and French engineering firm Alten both gained more than 7% on the back of strong earnings reports. At the bottom of the index, British manufacturer Smith & Nephew fell more than 5% after its results.

Meanwhile, Vivendi's crown jewel Universal Music Group has posted strong results two months before its planned listing in Amsterdam, driving Vivendi to a 49% rise in first-half core profits.

In other news, England has scrapped quarantine requirements for fully-vaccinated EU and U.S. visitors after August 2, offering a boost to European travel and airline stocks. France has been excluded, to the ire of Paris.

On the data front, a July euro zone business climate survey is due at 10 a.m. London time along with economic, industrial and services sentiment readings and final consumer confidence and inflation expectations.

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