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European equities enter new quarter with moderate gains

(Reuters) – European stocks rose slightly at the start of a new quarter on Wednesday, as improved eurozone data raised hopes for a faster economic rebound, but soaring US coronavirus cases held up optimism in check.

FILE PHOTO: The DAX graph of the German stock price index is shown on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange in Germany on May 26, 2020. REUTERS / Staff

The pan-European STOXX 600 index rose 0.3% after closing its best quarterly gains since March 2015 in the previous session.

Trading in some European markets, including Germany DAX .GDAXI and Austria .ATX, was hit by a “technical problem” with the Frankfurt cash market system Xetra, a Deutsche Boerse (DB1Gn.DE) said a spokesperson.

Volumes on DAX were frozen at 0.15% of the long-term daily average, while the larger STOXX 600 saw 3% of the daily average increase to 0733 GMT, Refinitiv data showed.

Fueling hopes for a steady recovery from the coronavirus crisis, the data show that the number of unemployed people in Germany increased much less than expected in June.

The final reading of IHS Markit’s Eurozone Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) showed that the slowdown in the block last month was not as bad as initially thought. The index has moved closer to the 50-point mark separating growth from the contraction in June.

However, investors remained concerned as the United States posted its highest peak in a day since the pandemic began on Tuesday, easing hopes that the economic pain is over.

“The third quarter begins with the announcement of a record increase in new daily cases of COVID-19 in the United States, and the impressive second quarter performances will be difficult to maintain,” wrote Ian Williams, strategist at Peel Hunt, in a morning note.

“Political support remains strong but the form of recovery in the major economies is very uncertain.”

Energy companies such as BP (BP.L) and Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.L) rebounded from losses in the previous session, as oil prices rose after a report showed that US crude inventories had fallen more than expected. [O/R]

The Swiss manufacturer of specialty chemicals Clariant (CLN.S) jumped 9% by closing the sale of $ 1.6 billion of its masterbatch unit to PolyOne Corp (POL.N), allowing the payment of a special dividend of $ 3 per share.

Monte dei Paschi di Siena Bank (BMPS.MI) increased by almost 2% after announcing that the Italian bank was studying merger possibilities, including with Banco BPM (BAMI.MI).

Sruthi Shankar’s reports to Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila

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