London, United Kingdom — European stock markets mostly rose Wednesday as traders reacted to mixed economic data and earnings results. Earlier, Hong Kong had led most Asia markets higher, but Tokyo struggled as a stronger yen weighed on exporters’ share prices. Traders woke up to the now-common sight of a record close on Wall Street. In Europe on Wednesday, sterling headed lower in reaction to mixed U.K. growth data ahead of Brexit, analysts said. Britain’s economy grew by a better-than-expected 0.7 percent in the final three months of last year, according to official revised data that revealed also that for the whole of 2016 it expanded by a lower-than-forecast 1.8 percent. “The main impact of all this was, as expected, felt by the pound,” said Spreadex analyst Connor Campbell.
“Having been up 0.2 percent against the dollar earlier in the session, sterling is now in the red.” In the eurozone, German business confidence unexpectedly bounced back in February, a key survey showed Wednesday, even as political uncertainty continues to cloud the prospects for Europe’s biggest economy. The Ifo institute’s headline index climbed to 111 points, the same level it reached in December, after slipping to 109.9 points in January. Last month’s dip was largely blamed on fears that U.S. President Donald Trump’s protectionist leanings and Britain’s upcoming divorce talks with the European Union would hurt German exporters. Meanwhile in world corporate news Wednesday, shares in Toshiba soared more than 22 percent on expectations of a part sale for its microchip business, and after the Japanese giant sold its medical finance unit to Canon.
Despite the surge, the company’s shares are still worth only half of what they were in December owing to concerns about massive losses in its US nuclear arm. In Europe, shares in Airbus fell 0.7 percent to 66.80 euros after the aircraft maker said its profits nosedived last year as charges related to problems with its A400M military cargo transport plane sent earnings into a tailspin. But German heavy industry giant ThyssenKrupp jumped 4.7 percent to 24.25 euros as the company agreed to sell its Brazilian CSA steel mill to the Ternium group for US$1.6 billion. “Looking ahead to the US open and there is little on offer to challenge the (British) GDP data for dominance, at least not until the latest Federal Reserve meeting minutes are released this evening,” added Campbell. Key figures around 1145 GMT
London – FTSE 100: UP 0.1 percent at 7,281.74 points Frankfurt – DAX 30: UP 0.2 percent at 11,989.81 Paris – CAC 40: UP 0.1 percent at 4,892.48 EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 0.1 percent at 3,336.32
Tokyo – Nikkei 225: FLAT at 19,379.87 (close) Hong Kong – Hang Seng: UP 1.0 percent at 24,201.96 (close) Shanghai – Composite: UP 0.2 percent at 3,261.22 (close) New York – Dow: UP 0.6 percent at 20,743.00 (close)