European markets edge higher as earnings, ECB take center stage; Neste rallies 12%
by onlysureshot.com |
European markets were slightly higher on Thursday morning, as investors monitored a fresh batch of corporate earnings.
The pan-European Stoxx 600 edged up around 0.2 percent during early morning deals, with sectors and major bourses pointing in opposite directions.
Europe's autos stocks led the gains on Thursday morning, up 1 percent amid earnings news. Germany's Volkswagen reported weaker-than-anticipated profits in the first three months of 2018. However, an impressive rise in vehicle sales over the same period pushed shares more than 3 percent higher.
Meanwhile, Europe's technology stocks led the losses shortly after the opening bell, down around 0.5 percent amid earnings news. BE Semiconductor, which sells equipment to chip makers, was the worst sectoral performer on Thursday. Despite the Dutch company's stronger-than-anticipated earnings, investor sentiment appeared to be impacted by sales warnings from two major Apple suppliers earlier in the week. Shares of BE Semiconductor were down almost 10 percent.
Looking at individual stocks, oil refiner Neste surged to the top of the European benchmark on Thursday, after it reported upbeat first-quarter figures. Shares of the Finnish firm were nearly 12 percent higher on the news.
Elsewhere, Philips Lighting slumped towards the bottom of the index after it reported a big first-quarter earnings miss. The world's largest light maker came in below expectations on all key metrics, Morgan Stanley said. Its shares were 8 percent lower in morning trade.
While earnings season is keeping investors busy across markets worldwide, another topic that's been taking up space in investors' minds is that of rising yields. On Tuesday, the U.S. 10-year treasury yield topped 3 percent and continued to extend gains on Wednesday.
Investors around the world have been fixated on the 10-year note yield as of late, with concerns looming that hitting the 3 percent barrier could trigger a reaction from financial markets both in the U.S. and internationally.
While breaking the psychological barrier did initially trigger a negative reaction from markets on Wednesday, indexes have since shown signs of bouncing back. In the U.S., stocks finished mostly higher on the back of positive earnings, while in Asia, markets were relatively mixed.
With yields rising, market participants are wondering what this will mean for the global economy, with many expecting this to mean higher interest rates from central banks.
Switching focus to Thursday's session, investors will be turning their attention to Frankfurt, where the European Central Bank (ECB) is due to announce its latest monetary policy decisions, followed by a press conference.
While the ECB is expected to hold steady on its current monetary policies, investors will be paying close attention to the press conference where President Mario Draghi is expected to deliver remarks on the current economic state of the euro zone.