Article Highlights

  • STOXX 600 up 0.7 pct in 2nd day of gains
  • Airbus flies up 9.3 pct after profit beat
  • Old Mutual, Anglo American rise on Zuma resignation
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A recovery rally in European stocks gathered pace for a second day on Thursday after investors brushed off a spike in U.S. inflation, turning their focus back to company earnings from heavy hitters including Europe’s largest aerospace firm, Airbus.

The pan-European STOXX 600 was up 0.8 percent by 0933 GMT, hitting its highest level in a week. The main European stock index was still down 6.5 percent from its 2 1/2-year peak hit as recently as Jan. 23.

Cyclical sectors drove the market higher, with basic resources, industrials, banks and technology stocks the best performers, recovering from their sharp drop last week.

The rapid recovery from a higher-than-expected rise in U.S. inflation reported on Wednesday took some by surprise, and investors said the bounceback indicated underlying strength in the market.

“For me it’s a clear indication that inflation is not as big a threat as people made it out to be over the past couple of weeks,” said Lukas Daalder, chief investment officer at Robeco in Rotterdam.

“The trend behind the market is still very strongly pointed upwards,” he added. “2017 was a very momentum-driven market, and if that’s still the case, which after yesterday it appears to be, then we will probably see new highs before too long.”

Earnings took center stage once more, with strong results driving the top gainers Airbus, Ipsen, Aegon, and Schneider Electric.

Airbus shares jumped 8.8 percent after Europe’s largest aerospace firm beat profit and earnings expectations, though it booked a new 1.3 billion euro charge on its A400M military plane.

Schneider Electric was a top CAC 40 gainer, up 5 percent after the electrical equipment producer reported a strong profit margin despite headwinds from the rise in the euro.

Shares in Dutch insurer Aegon gained 3.7 percent after the firm reported a doubling of quarterly net income and raised estimates for future earnings, thanks to a tax cut in the U.S. where it does around 60 percent of its business.

Insurer NN Group fared less well than its rival Aegon. The Dutch firm’s shares fell 3 percent after it reported profit undershooting analysts’ expectations.

Another notable faller was Nestle whose shares hit a 10-month low, down 2.4 percent after the Swiss food giant reported last year’s organic growth was the weakest since it began recording the measure in 1996.

Meanwhile bank and insurance firm Old Mutual, and mining company Anglo American rose to the top of Britain’s FTSE 100 after President Jacob Zuma resigned in South Africa, sending the rand to near three-year highs.

Both firms derive a high proportion of their revenue in South Africa, where the parliament was set to confirm Cyril Ramaphosa as the new president later on Thursday.

Germany-listed shares in South African retailer Steinhoff rose 10 percent to the top of the STOXX after the firm, embroiled in an accounting scandal, said it would hold its annual shareholders’ meeting on April 20.

Overall fourth-quarter earnings for European firms are expected to increase 14.6 percent from the previous year, the latest Thomson Reuters data showed.

“Earnings estimates have also been raised, so that’s definitely one of the supporting factors of the rally,” said Robeco’s Daalder.