European Stocks Strong After Ifo, U.S. Earnings

European stock markets posted broad-based gains on Thursday, with the trading mood lifted after stellar earnings from U.S. tech giants Apple and Facebook and upbeat German confidence data. European Central Bank President Mario Draghi will be in the spotlight later in the morning, when he speaks in Amsterdam.

The Stoxx Europe 600 index XX:SXXP +0.56%  climbed 0.6% to 337.00, recovering from a 0.6% loss on Wednesday. On the week, the benchmark was looking at a 1.4% gain.

Helping lift the index, shares of Alstom SA FR:ALO +13.76%  rallied 11% after reports that General Electric Co.GE -0.11% is looking to buy the French industrial company. Ishaq Siddiqi, market strategist at ETX Capital, said in a note such a takeover would be the biggest in GE’s history and that it would make “complete strategic sense”.

“GE is basically in every one of Alstom’s businesses plus more,” he said. “If GE manages to charm Alstom into its arms, the deal would be worth 5% of the U.S. giant’s market cap—expect GE shares to jump at the Wall Street open later.”

A representative from Alstom said in a statement that the company is unaware of any potential offer and that the group will use its annual report on May 7 as an “opportunity to give an update on the prospects of its activities.”

More broadly, investors were encouraged by an upbeat trading mood in U.S. premarket action on the back of better-than-expected earnings reports from Apple Inc. AAPL +7.22%  and Facebook Inc.FB +4.95% . Stock futures for the three U.S. benchmarks were all up in early premarket trade, with Nasdaq 100 index futuresNDM4 +1.22%  up 1.2%.

The European benchmarks also held on to gains after the German Ifo business climate index rose to 111.2 points in April, up from 110.7 in March and beating expectations of a small decline.

At 10 a.m. London time, ECB President Mario Draghi will give a keynote speech at the conference “De Nederlandsche Bank 200 years: central banking in the next two decades.”

Germany’s DAX 30 index DX:DAX +0.64%  gained 0.8% to 9,623.77, while France’s CAC 40 index FR:PX1 +0.76%  added 0.8% to 4,485.01. The U.K.’s FTSE 100 index UK:UKX +0.51%  advanced 0.5%.

Source: Market Watch

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