European Stocks Mixed; Shell Lifts Buybacks, Dividend After Stellar Results

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European Stocks Mixed; Shell Lifts Buybacks, Dividend After Stellar Results
Credit: © Reuters.

By Peter Nurse 

Investing.com - European stock markets traded in mixed fashion Thursday, with strong results from energy giant Shell (LON: RDSa ) helping the FTSE 100 outperform ahead of policy setting meetings by both the European Central Bank and the Bank of England.

By 3:50 AM ET (0850 GMT), the DAX in Germany traded 0.4% lower, the CAC 40 in France dropped 0.1%, while the U.K.’s FTSE 100 rose 0.1%.

Meetings by both the ECB and BOE later in the session are the main events Thursday, but ahead of them, earnings season has continued in full flow.

Shell (BS: SHELl ) stock rose 0.7% after the oil major announced an $8.5 billion share buyback program and lifted its dividend, supported by fourth-quarter earnings that comfortably exceeded expectations on the back of surging energy prices.  

Additionally, Compass (LON: CPG ) stock surged over 7% after the catering giant announced that its quarterly revenue has almost returned to pre-pandemic levels, helped by new business and strong client retention.

Publicis (PA: PUBP ) stock rose 2.3% after the world's third-biggest advertising agency released 2021 earnings ahead of expectations, forecasting organic sales growth of 4% to 5% this year. 

On the flip side, BBVA (MC: BBVA ) stock fell 3% and ING (AS: INGA ) stock slumped 4.2% with both banks increasing their net profits in the fourth quarter, but by less than had been expected after strong results from a number of their regional peers.

And Chile-focused copper miner Antofagasta (LON: ANTO ) remained under pressure, touching a new 52-week low amid concerns about the new government's intentions toward the mining sector. Antofagasta stock was down 0.2%.

Later, the European Central Bank is widely expected to keep policy unchanged but pressure is mounting on the institution to act, given data released on Wednesday showing that inflation in the Eurozone rose to 5.1% in January, the highest ever for the region, despite expectations for a drop to 4.4%. 

The Bank of England has already started tightening its monetary policy, and is expected to deliver another rate hike later in the session after surprising the markets with an increase of 15 basis points in December.

The economic data slate in Europe will center around final purchasing manager’s index data from most of the Eurozone for January later in the session, but Eurozone producer prices for December are also due.

Oil prices eased back Thursday but remained near multi-year highs, supported by tight global supply as a group of top producers stuck to its plan for limited increases in output.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies led by Russia agreed on Wednesday to add 400,000 barrels per day to its crude output, continuing the gradual increases it started in August, despite pressure from major consumers to raise output more quickly.

Offering additional support, U.S. crude stockpiles fell by 1 million barrels last week, the Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday, against expectations for an increase.

By 3:50 AM ET, U.S. crude futures traded 0.5% lower at $87.82 a barrel, while the Brent contract fell 0.4% to $89.12. Both benchmarks hit their highest levels since October 2014 on Friday.  

Additionally, gold futures fell 0.3% to $1,805.25/oz, while EUR/USD traded 0.1% lower at 1.1294.

 

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