European Stocks Higher; Corporate Earnings, Italian Politics Help By

© Reuters.
© Reuters.

By Peter Nurse – European stock markets pushed higher Wednesday, helped by progress towards further U.S. stimulus, while Italian political developments and corporate earnings will also share the spotlight.

At 3:50 AM ET (0850 GMT), the in Germany traded 0.6% higher, the in France rose 0.4%, U.K.’s index climbed 0.3%, while Italy’s rose 2.2%.

Former European Central Bank head is set to meet the Italian President Sergio Mattarella later Wednesday with a view to heading up a government of national unity, something that would end the latest political crisis in Rome.

This comes after party leaders failed to agree on a new coalition following the resignation of Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte last week.

In corporate news, Siemens (DE:) stock rose 2.1% after the German manufacturing conglomerate lifted its full-year guidance, citing faster-than-expected recoveries in China and Germany following the Covid-19 downturn.

Banco Santander (MC:) stock rose 2.6% after the Spanish bank declared a cash dividend for 2020 at the maximum level allowed in accordance with the limits set by the European Central Bank, despite recording its first ever annual loss ever.

Novo Nordisk A/S (NYSE:) stock added 3.9% after the diabetes drug maker gave upbeat sales and profit forecasts for 2021, while Swedish truckmaker Volvo (ST:) stock rose 0.3% after raising its forecasts for some of its main markets and rolling out a hefty shareholder payout.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Senate began debating a for 2021, the first step towards passing a $1.9 trillion stimulus package proposed by President Joe Biden without Republican support.

Additionally, the roll-out of vaccines in many countries is slowly gathering pace: the U.K. has now inoculated 10 million of its population, although health authorities remain concerned by the spread of new variants of the Covid-19 virus. AstraZeneca (LON:) has agreed to deliver nine million more doses of its vaccine to the European Union in the first quarter of this year, a region which has been slow on the inoculation uptake.

Oil prices edged higher, still around the highest levels in a year after an unexpected fall in oil supply. The reported late Tuesday crude inventories fell by 4.3 million barrels last week, compared with expectations for a small build. Data from the is due later in the day.

U.S. crude futures traded 0.6% higher at $55.08 a barrel, after hitting a one-year high of $55.26 on Tuesday. The international benchmark contract rose 0.1% to $57.88, after earlier climbing to $58.05, its highest in more than 11 months.

Elsewhere, rose 0.3% to $1,838.30/oz, while traded 0.1% lower at 1.2035.


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