Biggest gains for Europe stocks since Macron first-round win

LONDON: A run higher for energy shares and miners, as well as strong updates from Norwegian lender DNB, and a more dovish tone from United States Federal Reserve chief Janet Yellen, helped to drive European shares up Wednesday – although renewed pain for the publisher Pearson weighed upon the media sector. The pan-European STOXX 600 index was up 1.5 percent, as were eurozone stocks and blue chips, enjoying their best day’s gains since April 24, when then-candidate Emmanuel Macron’s first-round victory quashed market fears of a protectionist French president.

European shares made early gains and were given a second wind in afternoon trading when Yellen dampened expectations of more than one interest rate hike this year.

All sectors were in positive territory, with miners, construction and health care sectors leading.

A slower pace of interest rate raises is positive for equities, which benefit when their yield is relatively higher than other asset classes such as bonds.

Norwegian lender DNB led the banking sector higher, up 5.7 percent after its second-quarter earnings came in significantly above forecasts, and helped by a rise in lending margins and lower losses on its portfolio.

Luxury goods group Burberry was a strong gainer, rising 3.2 percent after reporting 3 percent underlying revenue growth in the first quarter, helped by robust demand in mainland China and continuing good performance in the group’s British market.

“[This is] the strongest performance for at least three years in terms of ... same store sales, and also the signs of an underlying rebound in demand in mainland China are very, very promising,” Ken Odeluga, market analyst at City Index, said.

Peers Kering and LVMH also rose 2.4 percent and 0.9 percent respectively. Online retailer Zalando gained 4.2 percent after broker Societe Generale started its coverage of the stock with a “buy” rating, saying it had the potential to play a much broader role in the future of fashion retailing.

With the European second quarter results season just around the corner, earnings are expected to increase by over 9 percent from the same period in 2016, which would be a rise of over 6 percent excluding the energy sector, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S estimates.

Strength in oil and metals prices helped lift the heavyweight European energy sector and basic resources , which gained 1.5 and 1.9 percent respectively.

The cyclical autos sector was led by a 3.1 percent rise in Valeo shares, which gained after the car parts-maker said it was eyeing a sale of a unit to Raicam.

Education publisher Pearson continued its slide from the previous day when it announced plans to sell its stake in Penguin Random House, down around 4.7 percent as broker downgrades and cuts to estimates rolled in.

Investec, Panmure and Credit Suisse were among brokers who were revising down their targets for Pearson, with worries around its dividend persisting.

Shares in British oil and gas services company Amec Foster Wheeler slumped more than 8 percent after confirming that Britain’s Serious Fraud Office was investigating the firm and individuals associated with the business.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on July 13, 2017, on page 5.




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