European stocks traded higher Wednesday morning as investors digested another round of major corporate earnings reports, but weaker-than-expected euro zone economic data capped gains.
The pan-European Stoxx 600 was up 0.4% by mid-morning, paring earlier gains after July’s final euro zone PMI (purchasing managers’ index) reading came in at a modest 56.5, with the bloc’s dominant services sector showing a weaker rebound than expected.
Travel and leisure stocks climbed 1.6% to lead gains while food and beverage stocks slid 0.5% lower.
Investors also have an eye on negotiations in Washington over a new U.S. coronavirus aid package, where White House negotiators on Tuesday vowed to work “around the clock” with Democratic counterparts to get a deal over the line by the end of the week.
Gold has continued to surge to record highs during Asian trading hours, and spot gold was changing hands at around $2,030 per troy ounce at the European open.
June’s retail sales for the euro zone are also due at 10 a.m.
Commerzbank posted a better-than-expected 21% dip in net profit to 220 million euros ($260.2 million) for the second quarter, and forecast a net loss for the full year fueled by increased loan loss provisions due to the coronavirus pandemic and the insolvency of Wirecard. Commerzbank shares climbed 4.4%.
German insurer Allianz reported a 29% decline in net profit for the quarter to 1.53 billion euros, but said the second half of the year will be stronger than the first provided the coronavirus situation remains the same. The company’s shares edged 0.5% lower Wednesday morning.
BMW swung to a 666 million billion euro net loss before interest and taxes in the second quarter, down from a 2.2 billion euro operating profit for the same period last year. The German automaker also restated its warning that pretax profit for 2020 will be significantly below the levels seen in 2019. Shares fell 3.2% in early trade.
Deutsche Post shares gained 2.1% after the package delivery giant beat expectations to record a 19% rise in second-quarter operating profit to 912 million euros and confirmed its full-year guidance. Dutch supermarket giant Ahold Delhaize reported a better-than-expected rise in sales and operating profit on the back of a surge in online sales during the pandemic, sending the stock 5.5% higher.
Hotel group Accor reported a first-half loss and unveiled plans to cut 1,000 jobs as part of a 200 million euro annual cost saving effort after the pandemic ravaged demand. The company’s shares slid 1.6%.
In terms of individual share price performance, British Airways parent IAG and low-cost carrier easyJet climbed 7.2% and 7.9% respectively to lead the Stoxx 600.
At the bottom of the European blue chip index, German health care company Fresenius dropped 4.2% after Jefferies downgraded the stock.