European stock markets were higher during Wednesday morning trade, as investors reacted to a string of robust economic data and monitored the release of sweeping reforms for the continent’s financial sector.
The pan-European Stoxx 600 was up around 0.41 percent during early morning deals, with most sectors and major bourses in positive territory.
Retail stocks led the gains on Wednesday morning, up over 1 percent after Next upgraded its full-year profit forecast. The British clothing retailer said it beat guidance for sales in the weeks leading up to Christmas as cold weather boosted the sale of winter clothes. Its shares were up more than 9 percent on the news.
Looking at individual stocks, British-based recruiter Hays slumped to the bottom of the benchmark in early morning trade. Credit Suisse cut its stock recommendation for the firm to “neutral” from “outperform” on Wednesday. Its shares were off almost 2 percent.
Meanwhile, Adecco Group was trading 3 percent higher shortly after the opening bell as Switzerland’s second-largest bank upgraded the stock to “overperform” from “underperform”.
In Asia, stocks soared to record highs on Wednesday after a slew of upbeat manufacturing surveys appeared to show a synchronized upturn in the global economy. Industry surveys from India to Canada showed quickening activity on Tuesday.
In corporate news, Europe’s largest airline Ryanair is due to publish passenger figures for the month of December. The airline said Tuesday that a subsidiary company, Ryanair UK, had applied for a British air operating certificate in order to ensure it would be able to keep operating in the country post-Brexit.
On the data front, investors will likely monitor the much-anticipated introduction of a colossal piece of European Union (EU) legislation on Wednesday. The revamped version of Europe’s Markets in Financial Instruments Directive — often referred to as Mifid II —is due to come into effect on January 3, impacting every corner of the continent’s financial services system.
In commodities, oil prices came off record highs in the previous session after major pipelines in Britain and Libya restarted and U.S. production surged to its strongest rate in more than four decades. Brent crude traded at around $66.58 a barrel on Wednesday morning, up 0.02 percent, while U.S. crude was seen at $60.40, up 0.05 percent.