Business

European Stocks Close Higher on Earnings Boost; Stoxx 600 Falls Over 1% in April

Reuters
  • Friday was another busy day for earnings in Europe, with AstraZeneca, Reckitt and NatWest among the firms reporting results.
  • Euro zone inflation hit a record high for the sixth month in a row in April, notching an annual 7.5% following March's 7.4% figure.

LONDON — European markets closed higher Friday as global stocks received a boost from strong corporate earnings, but remained negative for the month of April.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 index closed up 0.7% provisionally, with basic resources climbing 2.6% to lead gains as most sectors and major bourses ended in positive territory.

However, the index was down over 1% for the month as investors navigated the final trading day of April.

Friday was another busy day for earnings in Europe, with BASF, AstraZeneca, Reckitt, Eni, NatWest, Pearson and MTU Aero Engines among those reporting before the bell, while Daimler and Credit Suisse hold annual general meetings.

In terms of individual share price movement in Europe, Johnson Matthey soared nearly 19% to lead the Stoxx 600 after Standard Investments, the investment arm of U.S. industrial firm Standard Industries, took a 5.23% stake in the British chemicals company.

Toward the bottom of the blue chip index, BE Semiconductor shares fell over 9% after its first-quarter earnings report.

On the data front, euro zone inflation hit a record high for the sixth consecutive month in April, notching an annual 7.5% following March's 7.4% figure and sparking further questions about how the European Central Bank will react.

Euro zone GDP grew 0.2% in the first quarter and 5% year-on-year as the war in Ukraine curtailed economic growth across the bloc, official estimates revealed on Friday.

The French economy stagnated in the first quarter of the year as weak domestic demand continued despite an easing of Covid-19 restrictions. The euro zone's second-largest economy was unchanged following growth of 0.8% in the final quarter of 2021, with economists in a Wall Street Journal poll having projected a quarterly expansion of 0.3%.

On Wall Street, U.S. stocks were lower on Friday, with the Nasdaq pulling back sharply after Amazon's and Apple's quarterly results disappointed.

Meanwhile, global investors continued to monitor the war in Ukraine and its geopolitical implications, after Russian President Vladimir Putin warned the West of a "lightning fast" response to countries that intervene in the war.

Russia shocked the European community by halting gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria on Wednesday because they had refused to pay for the gas in Russian rubles, as Moscow demanded.

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