European Shares Rise On Lockdown Easing Hopes

European stocks were moving higher on Wednesday after countries such as Italy and Spain announced plans to begin easing tight lockdown measures.

Further helping underpin investor sentiment, the U.S. Senate has approved legislation worth $484bn to provide funding for a small business jobs program, hospitals hammered by the coronavirus pandemic, and national strategic testing.

The pan European Stoxx 600 was up 1.4 percent at 328.81 after losing as much as 3.4 percent in the previous session.

The German DAX rose 1.3 percent, France’s CAC 40 index gained 0.8 percent and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 was up 1.5 percent.

Gucci-owner Kering lost over 6 percent after its revenue fell sharply in the first quarter 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic. The drop was steeper than first projected by the group on March 20.

Heineken N.V. dropped 1.3 percent. The world’s second-largest brewer reported a 14 percent fall in beer sales in March and withdrew all guidance for 2020.

Dutch paints and chemicals maker Akzo Nobel N.V. jumped 8 percent after its first-quarter profit climbed 75 percent, despite headwinds from Covid-19.

Swiss healthcare company Roche Holding gained 1.5 percent after confirming its 2020 sales and profit outlook.

Telecommunications equipment company Ericsson rallied 5 percent after backing its guidance.

UniCredit, Italy’s largest bank, was little changed. The bank announced plans to take an additional loan-loss provision of 900 million euros ($977 million) for the first quarter to account for the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak.

CRH shares soared 6.5 percent. The building materials group reported that its first quarter like-for-like sales increased 3 percent from last year.

The company noted that it has sufficient cash and cash equivalents to meet all maturing debt obligations for the next 4.5 years.

Miner Antofagasta gained more than 4 percent. The company reported that its first-quarter copper production was 194,000 tons, an increase of 2.9 percent from last year, and up 4.6 percent sequentially.

Chemicals company Johnson Matthey rose about 1 percent. The company said it was taking actions to maintain a ‘strong’ financial position and tightly manage its cash flow and costs.

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