European stocks edge higher; retail sector in focus as earnings season starts

  • Stock Market News
European stocks edge higher; retail sector in focus as earnings season starts
Credit: © Reuters.

By Peter Nurse - European stock markets edged higher Wednesday, as investors digested a heavy flow of quarterly corporate results, with the retail sector in particular focus.

At 04:00 ET (09:00 GMT), the DAX index in Germany traded 0.4% higher, the CAC 40 in France rose 0.5% and the FTSE 100 in the U.K. climbed 0.4%.

European company results started to roll out in earnest on Wednesday, with J Sainsbury (LON: SBRY ) starting the earnings season.

The British supermarket chain said it expects profit and cash flow to be at the top end of its forecast range in the year through March, after a strong Christmas season for its core grocery business. However, its stock fell 2.5% after a rally that has driven them to their highest in nine months. 

JD Sports (LON: JD ) stock rose 5.9% after the fashion retailer lifted its annual profit forecast to the top end of expectations after announcing festive sales growth of more than 20% and its highest-ever weekly trading in the run-up to Christmas.

Additionally, Barratt Developments (LON: BDEV ) stock fell 2.3% after the house builder warned it could deliver fewer homes this year, seeing a sharp slowdown in sales rates as high borrowing costs weigh on the U.K. property market.

In other corporate news, LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton (EPA: LVMH ) stock rose 1% after the fashion giant announced that Pietro Beccari will become the new chairman and chief executive officer of its Louis Vuitton brand as part of a broad reshuffle of the group's leadership.

Bayer (ETR: BAYGN ) stock rose 1.9% after Bloomberg reported that activist investor Bluebell Capital Partners has built a stake and is pushing for the breakup of the German pharmaceutical and agriculture giant.

Turning to economic data, Spanish industrial production fell 1.1% year-on-year in November, official data showed on Wednesday, an indication of the growth slowdown European economies are likely to suffer in the new year.

The World Bank cut its forecast for global growth this year to 1.7%, after estimating in June that it would grow at a 3% rate in 2023. This would make this year among the weakest years for growth in three decades.

Oil prices edged higher Wednesday as broader risk-on sentiment helped traders overlook worries of slowing global growth as well as a sharp increase in U.S. crude and fuel inventories.

Data from the industry group American Petroleum Institute , released late Tuesday, showed U.S. crude oil stockpiles jumped by 14.9 million barrels last week, instead of the expected small draw, while there appeared to be a negligible release of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. 

The official inventory data is due from the U.S. Energy Information Administration later Wednesday, and traders will be looking for confirmation of this surprising release.

By 04:00 ET, U.S. crude futures traded 0.4% higher at $75.38 a barrel, while the Brent contract rose 0.4% to $80.43. 

Additionally, gold futures rose 0.7% to $1,888.65/oz, while EUR/USD traded 0.1% lower at 1.0727.

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