European Stocks Higher; Bayer in Focus Amid Earnings Deluge

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Investing.com – European stock markets pushed higher Thursday, with investors overlooking some weak corporate earnings and outlooks after fresh reassurances from Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell that monetary policy will stay loose for the foreseeable future.

At 3:55 AM ET (0855 GMT), the DAX in Germany traded 0.1% higher, the CAC 40 in France rose 0.4% and the U.K.’s FTSE index climbed 0.3%.

The European earnings season was in full flow Thursday, with a number of influential companies reporting results.

Anheuser Busch Inbev (BR:ABI) stock fell 5.2% after the world’s largest brewer warned higher input prices could squeeze margins this year, The company’s net debt burden swelled to 4.8 times basic operating earnings last year, as the pandemic frustrated its attempts to slim down after its debt-financed takeover of SAB Miller.

Bayer (OTC:BAYRY) stock fell 3.9% after the German pharmaceutical and chemical conglomerate posted a 78% fall in fourth-quarter net profit and cut its dividend by around one third, while Standard Chartered (LON:STAN) stock fell 4.7% after the U.K.-based bank reported a sharp drop in annual profit even as it restored its dividend.

On the flip side, Anglo American (LON:AAL) stock rose 4.4% after the mining giant enjoyed a strong end to 2020, helped by rising prices of key commodities, and AXA (PA:AXAF) stock rose 2.2% after the French insurer proposed a dividend even as its 2020 earnings were hard hit by the pandemic.

Additionally, Aston Martin (LON:AML) stock soared 10% after the carmaker predicted a brighter 2021 after a deep loss in 2020 when it raised fresh funding and changed boss to cope with the year’s difficult conditions.

Global equities were boosted by Fed chief Jerome Powell calming fears that higher inflation rates could see the central bank tighten monetary policy, reiterating the central bank’s desire to get the U.S. economy back to full employment.

This dovish tone was matched Thursday by European Central Bank board member Isabel Schnabel, who stated in an interview that raising interest rates too abruptly could jeopardize economic recovery.

Looking at economic data, German consumer confidence improved in March, as shoppers in Europe’s largest economy became more upbeat that a lockdown to contain the COVID-19 pandemic could be eased soon. The GfK German consumer climate index came in at -12.9 in March, an improvement from -15.5 the previous month.

Oil prices pushed higher Thursday, as reduced levels of U.S. production, on the back of last week’s cold snap in Texas, continued to support the market ahead of next week’s meeting of the globe’s top producers.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and their allies including Russia, a group known as OPEC+, is due to meet on March 4. They are likely to discuss an easing of oil supply curbs from April given the recent recovery in prices.

U.S. crude futures traded 0.8% higher at $63.72 a barrel, while the international benchmark Brent contract rose 0.9% to $66.74. Both contracts climbed to their highest levels since January 2020 earlier in the session.

Elsewhere, gold futures fell 0.5% to $1,788.90/oz, while EUR/USD traded 0.3% higher at 1.2205.

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