European Stocks Mixed; Investors Digest Ukraine Situation, Corporate Earnings
By Peter Nurse
Investing.com -- European stock markets traded in a mixed fashion Thursday, as investors digest the fraught situation on the Ukraine border, the minutes of the last Federal Reserve meeting, and a slew of corporate earnings.
By 4 AM ET (0900 GMT), the DAX in Germany traded 0.1% lower, the CAC 40 in France climbed 0.2% while the U.K.’s FTSE 100 fell 0.6%.
Investors continue to closely monitor the tense situation in Eastern Europe, with sentiment hit after Russian-backed rebels in eastern Ukraine accused government forces of shelling their territory with mortars.
Ukraine's military denied the accusations and such incidents are reasonably common, but this clash comes with Russia massing more than 100,000 troops close to its neighbor’s borders and such an event could be used as a reason to invade.
Look at the European corporate sector, the earnings season continues apace Thursday.
Carrefour (PA: CARR ) stock rose 4.10% after the French supermarket giant reported record cash generation in 2021 and a confident outlook for 2022, reflected in a new share buyback plan of 750 million euros ($852 million).
Staying in France, Orange (PA: ORAN ) stock rose 1.3% after the telecoms operator expressed confidence in returning to core profit growth in 2022 after difficulties last year.
Airbus (PA: AIR ) stock fell 0.8% despite Europe’s largest aerospace group posting a record net profit for 2021 and restarted its dividend for the first time in two years. The company is set for an expensive legal battle with Qatar Airways over damage to the surface of some of its A350 passenger jets.
Elsewhere, Reckitt Benckiser (LON: RKT ) stock soared 4.9% after the British consumer goods company forecast that its profit margin would grow this year despite significant cost pressures.
Nestle (SIX: NESN ) stock fell 0.6% after the Swiss food group said it expects sales to slow this year after posting a strong 7.2% rise in the fourth quarter.
In the banking sector, Commerzbank (DE: CBKG ) stock rose 4.1% after the German lender posted a better-than-expected fourth-quarter and 2021 net profit despite undergoing a major overhaul, while Standard Chartered (LON: STAN ) stock fell 3.5% despite announcing a $750 million share buyback after 2021 profits disappointed.
The minutes from the last Fed meeting, released late Wednesday, provided some support for the market as they suggested that while the central bank intends to shortly begin raising interest rates to fight inflation, a hefty 50 basis point hike wasn’t a done deal.
Oil prices weakened Thursday following comments by France suggesting an agreement to salvage Iran's 2015 nuclear deal with world powers was within reach, potentially releasing the Persian Gulf country’s crude output onto the global market.
However, the market has received some support from the increased tensions on the Ukraine border.
Data from the Energy Information Administration , released late Wednesday, showed a build in U.S. crude inventories of just over 1 million barrels last week, largely matching the numbers from the American Petroleum Institute the day earlier.
By 4 AM ET, U.S. crude futures traded 1.4% lower at $92.36 a barrel, while the Brent contract fell 1.4% to $93.52.
Additionally, gold futures rose 1.1% to $1,891.25/oz, while EUR/USD traded 0.1% lower at 1.1363.
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