European Shares Extend Gains In Cautious Trade

European stocks were flat to slightly higher on Wednesday as investors reacted to rising oil prices, a host of corporate earnings and reports about reopening of businesses across Europe and in a few U.S. states.

The Federal Reserve is set to finish its two-day meeting later today, with investors looking for guidance on the trajectory of the world’s largest economy.

The European Central Bank meets Thursday following Fitch’s decision to downgrade its rating on Italian debt to BBB-, one notch above junk.

The pan European Stoxx 600 was up 0.1 percent at 341.57 after climbing 1.7 percent on Tuesday.

The German DAX was rising 0.4 percent, France’s CAC 40 index was marginally higher and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 was up as much as 0.9 percent.

Shares in AMS soared 18 percent after the sensor specialist said it expects the impact from the novel coronavirus in the second quarter to be limited.

Drugmaker AstraZeneca rose 0.8 percent as it reported strong revenue and profit growth for the first quarter of 2019 and reiterated its 2020 forecast.

Standard Chartered Plc shares jumped 3.7 percent. After reporting a 12 percent fall in first-quarter net profit, the bank said it is seeing encouraging signs in China that the recovery could be yet more rapid than that.

International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (IAG), the parent company of British Airways, fell over 2 percent after announcing plans to cut nearly 12,000 jobs at the U.K. carrier.

BP Plc shares and Royal Dutch Shell both surged over 4 percent as oil prices rebounded on the back of lower-than-expected rise in U.S. stockpiles.

Retailer Next Plc dropped 1.4 percent after saying it expects full-year sales to fall by as much as 40 percent in a worst-case scenario.

Plane maker Airbus rose over 1 percent. After reporting a consolidated net loss of 481 million euros for the first quarter, the company said the assessment of Covid-19 implications on outlook is in progress.

Automaker Daimler climbed 2.4 percent after saying it expects the full-year operating profit of its Mercedes-Benz Cars & Vans division to be above the prior-year level.

Rival Volkswagen jumped 2.6 percent. The company said it has taken numerous countermeasures to cut costs and remain profitable on a full-year basis.

Polymer company Covestro gained about 2 percent after meeting its EBITDA guidance for the first quarter of 2020.

Deutsche Bank advanced 2.1 percent. The lender swung to a loss in the first quarter amid a costly restructuring and the coronavirus crisis.

In economic releases, Eurozone economic confidence deteriorated sharply amid coronavirus pandemic in April and reached near the lowest levels seen during the Great Recession in March 2009, survey results from the European Commission showed.

The economic confidence index fell to 67.0 in April from 94.2 in March. This was the strongest monthly decline since 1985.

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