European markets nudge higher as investors digest data, Covid surge – CNBC

LONDON — European stocks inched higher on Wednesday as investors monitored the latest data out of the euro zone and the region’s latest Covid surge.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 added 0.4% in early trade, with oil and gas stocks climbing 1% to lead gains while travel and leisure stocks slid 0.6% lower.

European markets continue to monitor the acute Covid crisis in the region this week, with more countries considering stricter restrictions and partial lockdowns to curb rising infections.

Germany is expected to make a decision on stricter measures on Wednesday amid a surge in cases there, and France recorded more than 30,000 new daily infections on Tuesday for the first time since August.

Investors are also digesting the latest business activity data from the region; European stocks retreated on Tuesday, closing lower, despite data showing that euro zone business activity grew unexpectedly in November.

IHS Markit’s flash composite purchasing manager’s index (PMI), a useful gauge of economic health, climbed to 55.8 in November from 54.2 in October, greatly outstripping expectations in a Reuters poll of economists for a drop to 53.2.

However, optimism about the immediate future for economic activity declined. It came amid a fresh wave of Covid-19 infections across the region and surging prices, and the outlook deteriorated for December.

Elsewhere overnight, U.S. stock futures were little changed after tech shares sold off for the second day in a row, pressured by rising rates that gave a boost to energy and financial stocks. Meanwhile, shares in Asia-Pacific were mixed in Wednesday trade, with Japanese stocks leading losses regionally.

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Earnings before the bell came from Johnson Matthey, Virgin Money and United Utilities.

In terms of individual share price movement, Telecom Italia jumped 7% in early trade, following a report suggesting U.S. private equity giant KKR is considering upping its buyout bid for Italy’s largest phone company.

At the bottom of the European blue chip index, British genetics firm Genus fell 7.8% after its trading update, which indicated that full-year profit before tax would likely be moderately lower than previous estimates.

The latest Ifo business climate survey from Germany will be published Wednesday morning.

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European markets nudge higher as investors digest data, Covid surge – CNBC

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