Wednesday, 22 May 2024

Relief bounce for European shares as investors find comfort in earnings

LONDON (Reuters) – European shares rallied on Wednesday as a tumultuous October drew to a close and strong results from L’Oreal, Sanofi and banks Standard Chartered and Santander soothed investors’ nerves.

The pan-European STOXX 600 was up 1.5 percent by 0945 GMT, with Germany’s DAX .GDAXI 1.3 percent higher.

Despite gains, the STOXX 600 was on track for its worst month since January 2016 after global equity markets reeled from sudden sell-offs and a pick-up in volatility this month.

The euro zone stocks index .STOXXE remained on course for its worst month since August 2015.

Analysts and investors said month-end repositioning was part of the reason for the strong bounce on Wednesday.

“Ultimately I’m still of the belief that we are in for more downside and rallies are for selling, but squeezes in bear markets are not normally comfortable affairs,” said Neil Campling, co-head of the global thematic group at Mirabaud Securities.

“I still think there is an element of complacency, or at least a lack of sense of any real panic – particularly in retail investor sentiment,” he added.

L’Oreal (OREP.PA) shares jumped 5.9 percent after sales growth at the company, whose brands include Maybelline, picked up pace in the third quarter, driven by booming demand in Asia.

This bucked the trend of results so far warning of slower Chinese growth.

“Management hosted a confident conference call reiterating confidence in the goal of achieving organic sales growth ahead of global market growth in 2018,” wrote Liberum analysts.

Shares in French pharmaceuticals giant Sanofi (SASY.PA) rose 5.2 percent after it confirmed its return to growth with higher-than-expected third-quarter profits and raised its 2018 profit target for the second time this year.

Banks Santander (SAN.MC) and Standard Chartered (STAN.L) rose 3.8 and 5.7 percent respectively after both lenders reported better results, helping boost sentiment in the battered banks sector.

Outside of earnings, the market was lifted by oil and gas stocks .SXEP as crude prices jumped, and tech stocks which have been among the worst hit by this month’s slide.

Chipmakers AMS (AMS.S), Infineon (IFXGn.DE) and STMicroelectronics (STM.MI) were top gainers.

Earnings disappointments still took big chunks out of some stocks.

Finnish tire maker Nokian (NRE1V.HE) sank 13.3 percent after it cut its profit outlook, blaming unfavorable currency moves, high inventory levels in Russia, and lower new car sales in the Nordics for a surprise fall in quarterly earnings.

Nokian was the latest in the autos sector to report weaker profits due to slowing car sales.

Eutelsat (ETL.PA) shares dived 10.6 percent after the satellite firm cut its revenue guidance.

Drugmaker Swedish Orphan Biovitrum (SOBIV.ST) dropped 13.6 percent after it cut its full-year outlook due to development costs, even though it lifted its sales forecast after a strong performance by haemophilia drug Elocta.

M&A also drove some big moves.

Shares in British gambling firm William Hill (WMH.L) jumped 8.3 percent after it offered to buy Swedish gaming company Mr Green (MRG.ST) for 2.82 billion crowns ($307 million).

Shares in the acquisition target surged 47 percent in early deals after the offer, a near 49 percent premium to Mr Green’s last closing price.

Investors were licking their wounds after a testing October for global stock markets which saw U.S. stocks sell off sharply, joining in the already bearish trend of other developed markets.

“Markets are going to have to get on board with the idea [U.S.] earnings are not going to grow by 20 percent every quarter,” said Kevin Gardiner, global investment strategist at Rothschild Wealth Management.

“I suspect in a way the markets are digesting that.”

($1 = 9.1815 Swedish crowns)

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