March 28, 2023

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On Thursday, European stocks reached record highs due to strong earnings from Airbus, commodity majors, and a bunch of other companies resulted in an upbeat tone. Market sentiment also received a boost from fading concerns about the regulatory crackdown in China. There was a 0.3% increase in the pan-European STOXX 600 index to reach a new all-time high in morning trading of 463 points. A 3.4% jump in Airbus gave the index the biggest possible, after the largest planemaker in the world raised its forecasts for earnings and full-year deliveries rather sharply. There was also a 3.5% jump in UK-listed Royal Dutch Shell and a 2.3% gain in France’s Total Energies.

This was because both companies made announcements of share buybacks as a surge in gas and oil prices gave their earnings a boost. The best sectoral performers this year have been miners and they also experienced an increase of 1.9% after Anglo American increased its shareholder payout to a whopping $4.1 billion. The STOXX 600 was on course for gains for the sixth month straight due to optimism surrounding European reopening and strong quarterly earnings, despite lingering worries about China’s regulatory crackdown and inflation.

According to market strategists, globally diversified stocks have seen the strongest EPS beats, whereas consumer stocks that have high exposure to emerging markets appear to be the weakest. However, it was also noted that inflation mentions by STOXX 600 companies had gone up by more than 400% in the past year, which left them at an all-time high. Nonetheless, investors were drawing comfort from the fact that central banks had maintained their supportive stance. On Wednesday, the Chairman of the US Federal Reserve, Jerome Powell took a dovish turn when he said that there was still a lot of ground to cover for the US job market before they could even begin to think about withdrawing economic support.

There was a 7.1% increase for Nokia, as the Finnish telecom equipment maker raised its full-year outlook because it is experiencing a strong turnaround in its business. Volkswagen, the largest carmaker in Europe, also reached a record high earlier after it increased its target for a profit margin for the second time within a matter of three months. So far, approximately 41% of the STOXX 600 companies have already reported their earnings for the second quarter and 67% of them have managed to beat analyst forecasts, as per the statistics accumulated. Typically, 51% of the companies usually beat analysts’ profit estimates under normal circumstances.

Overall, a 120.8% jump in profits is expected from STOXX 600 companies in the second quarter of the year. There were also some declines and these included Credit Suisse, as the Swiss bank fell by 3.9% after it reported a fall of almost 80% in its profit for the second quarter. This was primarily because of the impact of Archegos’ collapse. Likewise, other companies that also declined after posting their results included Anheuser-Busch InBev and food giant Nestle.

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