Europe Shares Higher Ahead of Ukraine Talks; Data Beats

European stocks were flat on Wednesday, with investors responding to talks in Paris between U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov over the situation in Ukraine.










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Euro zone data beats

The FTSEurofirst 300 Index was higher by around 0.1 percent in afternoon trade as investors modestly followed the stellar gains of the previous session.

Tuesday’s rally came as Russian President Vladimir Putin appeared to back away from military action in the Ukrainian region of Crimea. Troops that had been on a training exercise near Ukraine’s border returned to base and Putin stated that any force used would only be a “last resort.”

John Kerry and Sergei Lavrov are due to meet in Paris on Wednesday to discuss the current situation, with the U.S. wanting independent observers in Crimea and direct talks between Kiev and Moscow.

Furthermore, the EU offered 11 billion euros ($15 billion) in aid to Ukraine.

Russia’s MICEX Index, which had seen a rebound of 5 percent on Tuesday after tanking 11 percent on Monday, was trading steady with declines of around 0.4 percent.

U.S. stocks tallied modest losses on Wednesday, a day after the S&P 500 closed at a record high, as Wall Street considered a report that had the private sector adding fewer-than-projected jobs in February.

ADP Research Institute reported the private sector added 139,000 jobs in February, less than the 160,000 estimated.

On the European data front, the euro zone’s private sector logged its busiest month in over two and a half years in February, outstripping earlier estimates.

Markit’s euro zone Composite Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI), climbed to 53.3 in February from 52.9 the previous month, beating the flash reading of 52.7 reported at the end of February. The boost in a business activity was once again led by Germany, which posted a 33 month high in output growth.

A revised figure for euro zone GDP confirmed a reading of 0.3 percent for the fourth quarter of 2013 and retail sales for the bloc showed a rise of 1.6 percent for the month of January. This was a rebound from a dip of 1.3 percent in December.

This data comes ahead of a Governing Council meeting by the European Central Bank (ECB) on Thursday with market watchers keen to pick up any signs on whether the central bank is looking for more economic stimulus in the coming months.

In Asia, equities were higher on Wednesday following an inspiring handover from Wall Street. However, Chinese shares remained sluggish. China’s annual meeting of parliament, the National People’s Congress, which kicked off Wednesday, also provided the market with support. China has set its gross domestic product (GDP) growth target for 2014 at 7.5 percent, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said.

Adidas shares fall

Shares of French supermarket Carrefour rose 4.3 percent after announcing its 2013 operating profit had risen by 5.4 percent.

Sports retailer Adidas saw its shares lose 2.8 percent as the German firm announced that weakening emerging market currencies would affect its 2014 earnings.

Meanwhile, Standard Chartered shares sunk 2.23 percent. The bank cut its bonus pool by 15 percent and predicted modest growth for 2014; however, its profit missed forecasts at $6.95 billion, against estimates of $7.1 billion.

Source: CNBC

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