European Shares Edge Higher On Recovery Hopes

European stocks eked out modest gains on Thursday as dovish testimony from Fed Chair Jerome Powell eased concerns about inflation.

Promising new data on Johnson & Johnson’s coronavirus vaccine also boosted hopes for a faster economic recovery.

The pan European Stoxx 600 edged up 0.2 percent to 414.07 after rising half a percent on Wednesday.

France’s CAC 40 index rose 0.4 percent and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 inched up 0.3 percent, while the German DAX was marginally lower, giving up earlier gains.

Banks were broadly higher, benefiting in part from higher bond yields. Deutsche Bank surged 4 percent and BNP Paribas climbed 2.2 percent.

Pharmaceutical and chemical conglomerate Bayer slumped nearly 4 percent after reporting fall in fourth-quarter profit and sales.

Aixtron shares surged 15 percent. The provider of deposition equipment to the semiconductor industry reported slightly higher net result and revenue for the full year 2020 and said it expects stronger growth in 2021.

Insurance giant AXA gained 2.8 percent despite reporting a fall in underlying earnings for 2020.

Resource management firm Veolia Environnement rallied 2.2 percent. The company plans to achieve strong growth in its results in 2021 and expects to recover the pre-crisis dividend policy.

Aerospace company Safran dropped 2.9 percent after reporting a fall in FY20 profit.

Packaging company DS Smith jumped 8 percent on reports that rival Mondi Plc was exploring a takeover. Shares of the latter advanced 1.6 percent.

Standard Chartered shares fell nearly 5 percent after the bank posted a 57 percent fall in annual profit, missing analyst estimates.

Miner Anglo American jumped 4 percent after its 2020 underlying earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization beat estimates.

Beer giant Anheuser-Busch InBev NV fell 4.2 percent after its quarterly profit missed estimates.

In economic releases, German consumer confidence is set to improve in March, survey results from the market research group GfK showed earlier in the day.

The forward-looking consumer sentiment index rose more-than-expected to -12.9 in March from revised -15.5 in the previous month. The expected level was -14.3.

France’s consumer confidence index fell to 91 in February, while the score was forecast to remain unchanged at 92.

Business optimism improved among U.K. business and professional services in the three months to February, while morale weakened in consumer services, the latest quarterly Service Sector Survey from the Confederation of British Industry showed.

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