Strong data, earnings optimism lift European stocks

The German share price index DAX graph is pictured at the stock exchange in Frankfurt
The German share price index DAX graph is pictured at the stock exchange in Frankfurt, Germany, May 3, 2021. REUTERS/Staff

May 3, 2021

(Reuters) -European stocks drifted higher on Monday after strong euro zone factory activity and German retail sales data highlighted a quick rebound in economic growth, with a largely buoyant earnings season adding to the upbeat mood.

Euro zone stocks index that includes markets in continental Europe rose 0.6%, while the German DAX was up 0.8% and France’s CAC 40 gained 0.6%.

UK markets were closed for May Bank holiday, keeping trading volumes light.

A survey showed euro zone factory activity growth reached a record high last month, while German retail sales posted their biggest year-on-year increase in March since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“COVID-19 infections are stabilizing in Germany and the Netherlands, are on a downtrend in France and Italy, and appear to be under control in Spain,” analysts at BCA Research wrote in a note.

“Meanwhile, vaccinations are gathering pace across the euro area. This will allow authorities to ease restrictions and economic activity to accelerate.”

Europe’s benchmark STOXX 600 ended April with a 1.8% rise, and just below its all-time high as a pick-up in European vaccination drive and solid earnings reports boosted hopes of a strong economic recovery.

Nearly half of the STOXX 600 companies have reported so far, and 75% have topped profit estimates, as per Refinitiv IBES data. Normally, 51% beat earnings expectations.

German health technology company Siemens Healthineers rose 1.7% after it raised its full-year sales and profit forecast.

German airlines Lufthansa rose 2.1% following plans to offer flights to more than 100 holiday destination, Chief Executive Carsten Spohr told a German newspaper.

Wind turbine maker Siemens Gamesa fell 4.1% after it warned it could earn less this year than previously expected.

Dutch telecommunications company KPN NV fell 3.9% after it rejected unsolicited takeover offers from a private equity consortium comprising EQT AB and Stonepeak Infrastructure Partners and another from KKR.

(Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva)