European stock markets pause for breath as oil inches lower

European stocks traded flat Tuesday as investors paused for breath as oil prices retreated and U.S. markets ended lower overnight.

The pan-European STOXX 600 was hovering around the flatline.

European markets have been moving higher since the Brexit vote in late June caused turmoil in financial markets with easy monetary policy from central banks in the region helping stocks. Last week, the Bank of England cut interest rates for the first time in over seven years, from 0.5 percent to 0.25 percent. Meanwhile, a stronger-than-expected U.S. jobs number in July could help the Fed’s case for a rate hike.

At the same time, markets have been supported by a rise in the oil price on Monday which was driven by comments from OPEC officials suggesting that an oil output freeze could be discussed on the sidelines of an energy conference in Algeria in late September. Both Brent and U.S. Crude edged lower on Tuesday however, weighing on investor sentiment.

Investors will also be keeping an eye on manufacturing data from the U.K. which will give an idea of the continued effect that Brexit is having on the economy.

Earnings in focus

In corporate news, Dutch recruitment firm Randstad announced plans to buy U.S. rival Monster for $429 million. Randstad shares were slightly higher.

Online grocery delivery firm Ocado was trading higher after signing a deal with British supermarket WM Morrison which will allow it to expand home delivery across the U.K.

And on the earnings front, commodities firm Amec Foster Wheeler reported a £446 million ($579.4 million) pre-tax loss in the first half of 2016 compared with a £73 million profit in the same time last year, sending shares lower.

Netherlands-based telecoms firm Altice was near the top of the STOXX 600, up nearly 8 percent after it reported a rise in second-quarter core earnings and confirmed its 2016 guidance.

The U.K.’s Worldpay was also one of the top performers after it reported expectation-beating core earnings in the first half of the year. Worldpay floated on the London Stock Exchange last year.

Danish jewelry firm Pandora sunk over 5 percent after its second-quarter net profit missed analyst expectations.

And office space provider Regus reported a more than 10 percent year-on-year rise in first half revenue and a hike in its interim dividend, but investors were left disappointed, sending shares deep into negative territory.

Legal and General was in the red despite reporting a nearly 10 percent rise in first-half operating profit.

Standard Life shares were given a boost after the British insurer and asset manager said its first-half assets under administration rose 7 percent, while it also increased its dividend.

Source: CNBC

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