LONDON: European shares moved further off six-week lows hit last session as forecast-beating results from companies including energy major TotalEnergies and automaker Volvo Car helped set aside worries about slowing global economic growth.
The pan-European STOXX 600 index closed up 0.6%, but was below session highs, hit by weak advance first quarter US economic growth data as well as higher-than-expected German inflation spurring bets on a quicker pace of monetary tightening by the European Central Bank.
“Softer GDP numbers has raised fears that the US economy is not as immune to the global headwinds that are blowing as was previously thought,” said Stuart Cole, head macro economist at Equiti Capital.
“It has been enough to see European stocks giving up some of their gains as overall the US figures have simply raised again worries over a global slowdown,” he said. “It is another piece of bad news against a backdrop of bad news generally.”
April has been a volatile ride for stock markets globally, with the STOXX 600 sinking to an over one-month low at one point on concerns over rising interest rates, valuations of US technology firms, the Ukraine conflict and China’s COVID lockdowns.
But strong earnings saw the index rise on the day, with France’s TotalEnergies gaining 3.7% following plans to buy back its own shares after core earnings rose sharply on soaring oil and gas prices.
Automakers rallied 2.2%. Volvo Cars jumped 8% after its profit beat analysts’ forecasts as demand for its products remained strong.
Standard Chartered jumped 14.2% after reporting upbeat quarterly earnings. “The earnings season so far has been pretty supportive for corporates. It generally seems that they’re able to continue to push through some of the costs through pricing,” said Roger Jones, head of equities at London & Capital.
“But if there is a growth slowdown in the pipeline... how long (earnings strength) will persist is a very big question.” Of the 23% of STOXX 600 companies that have reported so far, 65% have topped earnings estimates, as per Refinitiv IBES data. In a typical quarter, 52% beat forecasts.
Tech stocks got a boost from better-than-expected results from Meta Platforms Inc as well as a 17.5% surge in software specialist Temenos after a report on a possible takeover approach.
Healthcare stocks took a hit, with Sanofi sliding 0.9% even as quarterly profit topped estimates.
Swedish cloud communications company Sinch plunged 21.9% as its first-quarter update revealed weak operational trends.