Investing.com - European stock markets traded lower Wednesday, with worries about the health of the global banking system weighing as the earnings season continues at a pace.
Standard Chartered (LON: STAN ) was the latest European lender to release results earlier Wednesday, and the British bank posted a 21% rise in pretax profit, ahead of estimates, helping its stock to rise 0.5%.
However, the sector as a whole traded in the red after Swiss lender UBS (SIX: UBSG ) and Spain’s Santander (BME: SAN ), the eurozone’s second-biggest lender in terms of market value, disappointed the markets with their quarterly earnings results on Tuesday.
Additionally, the Swiss financial regulator FINMA questioned the crisis plans of two of the country's five systemically important banks–Zuercher Kantonalbank and PostFinance–calling their emergency blueprints insufficient.
Across the pond, First Republic Bank (NYSE: FRC ) stock slumped after revealing $100 billion in customer withdrawals last month, fueling concerns for the whole U.S. regional banking sector.
GSK (LON: GSK ) stock fell 0.6% after the U.K. drugmaker said it expected adjusted operating profit growth to be lower in the first half of the year as costs increase to fuel expected drug launches, even as it reaffirmed its guidance for 2023.
Puma (ETR: PUMG ) stock fell 2.7% after the German sportswear maker said it expected second-quarter sales to grow at a low- to mid-single-digit percentage rate, below its full-year target, citing high inventory levels and ongoing challenges in the market.
Equity markets had received a boost overnight as first-quarter results from U.S. tech giants Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT ) and Google owner Alphabet (NASDAQ: GOOGL ), released after the closing bell on Wall Street, beat market expectations.
On the economic data front, the forward-looking German GfK consumer sentiment index came in at -25.7 for May, an improvement from the revised prior reading of -29.3, and the seventh rise in a row.
There are also a number of ECB policymakers scheduled to speak later in the session, including Andrea Enria , Kerstin af Jochnick and Luis De Guindos , who could offer clues as to the future path of the central bank’s monetary policy.
The European Central Bank is widely expected to lift interest rates again in early May, with the main open question being the size of the move, a quarter- or a half-point step.
Oil prices stabilized Wednesday after the previous session’s sharp losses, helped by falling U.S. fuel inventories pointing to resilient demand in the world’s largest oil consumer.
Data from the American Petroleum Institute , released late Tuesday, showed that U.S. crude inventories fell by just over 6 million barrels last week, more than the expected 1.7 million barrels, while gasoline inventories fell 1.9 million barrels.
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