European stocks edge higher amid emerging market turmoil

Big 5

European stocks were slightly higher Tuesday morning, after emergency austerity measures in Argentina underscored the recent turbulence in emerging markets.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 edged up around 0.2 percent during early morning deals, with most sectors and major bourses in positive territory.

Europe’s banking index led the gains shortly after the opening bell, up more than 0.8 percent amid a flurry of rating upgrades. Spain’s Caixabank was among the top performers, after RBC revised its stock recommendation to “outperform” from “underperform” on Tuesday. The broker said it was particularly impressed with the lender’s life insurance business. Shares of Caixabank were almost 3 percent higher on the news.

Looking at individual stocks, France’s Scor surged to the top of the European benchmark after the reinsurer said it had rejected an acquisition offer from privately-held insurance company Covea. Scor added it remained interested in a friendly tie-up with Covea — which currently owns an 8.22 percent stake in Scor. Shares of the Paris-listed stock rose 7 percent during early morning deals.

Meanwhile, WPP named Mark Read as its new CEO on Monday, sending shares sharply lower Tuesday morning. The company veteran is tasked with guiding the world’s biggest advertising company through a period of unprecedented change following the acrimonious departure of Martin Sorrell. Shares of WPP were down 7 percent on the news.

‘Emergency’ measures

On Monday, Argentine President Mauricio Macri announced “emergency” measures to try to balance next year’s budget, including new taxes on exports and steep cuts to government spending. The Argentine peso dipped more than 3 percent lower on the news, and is expected to face further pressure over the coming days.

Meanwhile, Turkey’s central bank promised it would take steps to combat “significant risks” to price stability at its next monetary policy meeting. The signal is likely to heighten expectations of an interest rate hike later this month. The lira was slightly lower on the news, adding to losses of more than 40 percent against the dollar this year.

Elsewhere, investors continued to monitor an escalating global trade war between the U.S. and China. President Donald Trump reportedly said over the weekend that he is prepared to impose tariffs on additional $200 billion worth of imports from Beijing as soon as a public comment period ends on Thursday.

In Asia, MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares, excluding Japan, was down 0.3 percent on Monday.