European stocks edge up as earnings reports roll in


Most European stock benchmarks moved modestly higher Thursday, led by gains for commodity and industrial shares, as investors waded through a pile of corporate earnings reports.

What indexes are doing
On the national indexes, France’s CAC 40 index PX1, +0.21%  rose 0.2% to 5,388.44, and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 index UKX, +0.18%  picked up 0.2% to 7,333.71. Spain’s IBEX 35 IBEX, +0.07%  was up 0.2% to 9,876.40.

But Germany’s DAX 30 index DAX, -0.07%  was off 0.2% at 12,566.94, with shares of lender Deutsche Bank AG losing ground.

Overall, the Stoxx Europe 600 index SXXP, +0.01%  was up less than 1 point at 381.87. That benchmark on Wednesday rose 0.3%, marking a second straight advance.

The euro EURUSD, -0.0323%  changed hands at $1.2387, up from $1.2376 on Tuesday.

What’s driving the market
Industrial and commodity shares were putting in the best performances in European trade, with oil shares rising as oil and Brent crude prices CLK8, +0.82% LCOM8, +0.91%  each gained about 1%. The Stoxx Europe 600 Industrial Goods and Services Index SXNP, +0.57%  moved up 0.6%, and the Basic Resources Index SXPP, +0.24%  tacked on 0.4%.

Oil prices extended gains, trading at their highest since 2014, as supply data released Wednesday showed an unexpected drop in U.S. crude stockpiles. As well, traders are looking ahead to Friday’s outcome of the joint Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and non-OPEC ministerial monitoring committee meeting.

Meanwhile, concerns about U.S. sanctions on Moscow have lifted prices for metals, including aluminum and nickel, which on Wednesday rallied to a 3-year high.

What strategists are saying
An oil price rally has “lit a fire under resource stocks and commodity prices” after the Energy Information Administration said oil inventories fell by 1.1 million barrels, Accendo Markets said in a note Thursday.

“Saudi Arabia added further kindling to demand for crude by indicating it would be happy for oil prices to reach as high as $80-100 a barrel, indicating that the voluntary OPEC+ supply cap is set to extend further,” wrote Accendo analysts Mike van Dulken and Artjom Hatsaturjants.

“White House indecision over a new round of Russia sanctions and Venezuela’s ongoing economic woes added to the supply uncertainty,” they said.

Which data are in focus?
U.K. retail sales missed forecasts, falling 1.2% month-on-month in March after cold weather last month kept shoppers home. Analysts had expected sales to decline by 0.4%, according to FactSet.

The pound GBPUSD, -0.0493%  dropped to $1.4187 after the report, after trading as high as $1.4220 earlier on Thursday.

Stocks in focus
In the industrials group, Schneider Electric SE SU, +2.00%  bulked up 2.2%. The French energy management company said it is now targeting the upper half of its 2018 organic growth objective.

Weir Group PLC shares WEIR, +5.34%  rose 5.6%. The London-listed engineering company said it’s purchasing U.S.-based ESCO Corp. in a $1.05 billion deal that Weir says will strengthen its mineral and oil-and-gas offerings.

Publicis Groupe SA shares PUB, +7.52%  were pushed up 5.3% as the advertising firm posted first-quarter organic revenue growth of 1.6%, compared with a contraction of 1.2% in the year-earlier period.

Deutsche Bank AG DBK, -0.12% DB, +0.42%  fell 0.6% after the lender said Chief Operating Officer Kim Hammonds will leave the company next month, the latest executive to depart the embattled bank. Earlier this month, Deutsche Bank named Christian Sewing to replace John Cryan as CEO following weeks of management turmoil.

Unilever PLC shares ULVR, -1.86% UL, -0.05%  were down 1.9% after the maker of Dove soap and other consumer products said first-quarter revenue fell 5.2% on adverse currency movements and the impact of disposals. The company also said it’s starting a share buyback program of up to 6 billion euros ($7.43 billion).