European shares flat as ECB maintains status quo

Economy1 hour ago (Oct 28, 2021 09:26AM ET)

(C) Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Bull and bear symbols for successful and bad trading are seen in front of the German stock exchange (Deutsche Boerse) in Frankfurt, Germany, February 12, 2019. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach/

By Anisha Sircar and Ambar Warrick

(Reuters) -European stocks struggled for direction on Thursday on a batch of mixed earnings reports, as the European Central Bank kept its massive stimulus taps open and maintained its view that a recent spike in inflation would be temporary.

The pan-European STOXX 600 fell 0.1% as optimism over strong earnings in the food and beverage and technology sectors was offset by weak showings in energy, travel and automobile stocks.

Beer brewer Anheuser-Busch InBev surged 8% on a surprise rise in third-quarter profit, while French IT services provider Capgemini added 5.7% on strong earnings and outlook.

Equity markets reacted little to the ECB’s decision, which came in largely as expected. The bank is likely to make a decision on its pandemic-related emergency stimulus in December.

“If you’re an equity trader, you’re flying. There’s still no sign that monetary policy is going to be tightened,” said Stuart Cole, head macro economist at Equiti Capital.

But investors questioned the bank’s stance on transitory inflation, with preliminary data on Thursday showing consumer prices the euro zone’s largest economy rose more than expected in October.

“Some of the strength in the German figure were as a result of base effects, but even taking this into account it is hard not to conclude that inflationary pressures are increasing,” Equiti Capital’s Cole said.

German stocks fell 0.2% after the data.

Volkswagen (DE:VOWG_p), Europe’s largest carmaker, dropped 3.3% after cutting its outlook for deliveries and reporting lower-than-expected quarterly profit due to the global chip crunch. The wider auto index fell 0.8%.

Swedish online gambling firm Evolution slumped 11.2% after a disappointing quarterly report.

Oil major Royal Dutch Shell (LON:RDSa) dropped 1.1% after reporting a third-quarter profit that came in below expectations, hitting shares of peers BP (NYSE:BP) and TotalEnergies.

European stocks are still set for strong gains in October on a swathe of positive earnings, which pushed the STOXX 600 close to record highs.

Profits for Europe Inc are expected to increase 52% in the third quarter from last year, according to Refinitiv data.

Airbus rose 1% after the world’s largest commercial planemaker raised its full-year financial targets.

Lloyds Banking Group (LON:LLOY) rose 1.7% as it upgraded its outlook after posting a better-than-expected quarterly profit.

European shares flat as ECB maintains status quo

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