Europe stocks close marginally higher as banks find relief

Europe’s main stock benchmark eked out a small gain on Wednesday, as a rally in bank shares offset double-digit slides by power generator provider Aggreko PLC and Swiss money manager GAM Holdings AG.

The Stoxx Europe 600 ended 0.11 points, or 0.03%, higher at 335.58, after darting in and out of losses throughout the session.

Among biggest decliners, GAM shares dived 13% as the company said a drop in performance fees helped cut profit almost in half, offering a fresh sign that choppy markets are hurting investment managers.

Shares in Aggreko also tumbled 13% after the U.K. company reported a 40% slide in first-half pretax profit as lower oil prices continued to hit a number of its markets.

Lenders: However, bank shares overall were stabilizing after recent drubbings, which came as stress-test and regulatory concerns weighed on the sector. The Stoxx Europe 600 Bank index climbed 1.8%, its first rise in three sessions.

Shares in ING Groep NV jumped 8.2% after the Dutch bank said underlying net profit rose 27%.

Meanwhile, Société Générale SA tacked on 3.2% after the French lender reported a jump in second-quarter net profit, helped by its sale of its Visa Europe stake.

London-based HSBC PLC pushed 4.5% higher. The lender said it would spend up to $2.5 billion to buy back shares in this year’s second half, though it also posted a 40% plunge in second-quarter net profit.

Credit Suisse Group AG climbed 0.9%, partly rebounding from a 6.2% slump on Tuesday that came after news the Swiss lender along with Deutsche are being kicked out of the Stoxx Europe 50 index next week. Deutsche Bank fell 0.3% on Wednesday.

The euro and economic news: The euro was lower, at $1.1178 from $1.122 late Tuesday. The shared currency rose to a five-week high on Tuesday.

A final July reading for a composite purchasing managers index for the eurozone came in at 53.2, above expectations and better than the flash reading of 52.9.

National indexes: Germany’s DAX 30 gained 0.3% to 10,170.21. France’s CAC 40 lost 0.2% to 4,321.08, while the U.K’s FTSE 100 inched 0.2% lower to 6,634.40.

Source: MarketWatch