European Markets Climb On Earnings Strength

The majority of the European markets ended Thursday’s session in the green. Investors were largely focused on corporate earnings and were encouraged by strong results from companies like Nestle, Unilever, ABB and Pernod Ricard.

The French stock market was the top gainer in Europe despite concerns over the upcoming elections in the country, which will take place on Sunday. Various polls are showing a four-way race that is currently too close to call. Millions of French voters remain undecided, making it one of the most unpredictable elections in decades.

The pan-European Stoxx Europe 600 index advanced 0.23 percent. The Euro Stoxx 50 index of eurozone blue chip stocks increased 0.56 percent, while the Stoxx Europe 50 index, which includes some major U.K. companies, added 0.23 percent.

The DAX of Germany climbed 0.09 percent and the CAC 40 of France rose 1.48 percent. The FTSE 100 of the U.K. gained 0.06 percent and the SMI of Switzerland finished higher by 0.30 percent.

In Frankfurt, Lufthansa rose 0.76 percent on reports that the airline is in talks with Iran Air to provide catering as well as maintenance, repair and overhaul services.

In Paris, Schneider Electric jumped 2.97 percent after reporting first quarter revenues of 5.84 billion euros, up 3.1 percent organically.

Advertising and communications company Publicis Groupe gained 2.77 percent. The company reported a drop in underlying revenue in the first quarter, but said it expects Q2 to show an improvement.

Pernod Ricard increased 1.06 percent. The drinks company reiterated its mid-term target to grow group sales by 4-5 percent after reporting a 3 percent rise in third quarter sales.

In London, Man Group climbed 7.19 percent after the hedge fund manager reported a 10 percent jump in funds under management for the first quarter.

Debenhams sank 5.06 percent. The department store group has unveiled plans to close up to 10 stores and exit some international markets, as part of efforts to cut costs and keep up with changing consumer behavior.

Anglo-Dutch consumer goods company Unilever gained 0.32 percent after its first-quarter sales topped expectations.

Nestle advanced 0.53 percent in Zurich. The food giant confirmed its full-year guidance for underlying sales after reporting first-quarter revenue growth ahead of analysts’ expectations.

Novartis increased 0.21 percent after it signed a collaboration deal with virtual Canadian biotech Parvus Therapeutics.

Engineering firm ABB rose 2.02 percent after saying it expects 2017 to be a transitional year.

Eurozone consumer confidence improved for a second straight month in April, preliminary data from the European Commission showed Thursday. The flash consumer confidence index for April rose to -3.6 from -5 in March.

Eurozone construction output increased notably in February, after falling in the previous two months, figures from Eurostat showed Thursday. Construction output climbed a seasonally adjusted 6.9 percent month-on-month in February, reversing a…

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