European stocks inched higher on Wednesday as investors digested corporate earnings and new economic data from Germany and the U.K.
The pan-European Stoxx 600 was 0.2 percent higher with banking stocks leading the gains on expectations of an interest rate hike in the U.S. next week.
Basic resources stocks jumped 0.4 percent in midafternoon trading on a firm outlook for the Chinese steel industry.
The German sportswear giant Adidas was up by 7 percent, after reporting “stunning” earnings. It expects its 2017 gross margin to increase to 49.1 percent. The company was disputing the top of the European benchmark with the security services company G4S. The latter also jumped nearly 8 percent after reporting an 18 percent increase in adjusted profit last year.
The British satellite company Inmarsat saw its best trading day in fourth months on Wednesday after reporting a 9.5 percent increase in earnings. Its shares were up by 6.3 percent.
Just Eat was also among the best performers for the second day in a row after presenting earnings on Tuesday.
By contrast, the French utility firm EDF fell 7 percent after the French government made 92 million euros in a share sale. The marine construction firm Boskalis reported a full-year loss for the first time in two decades on one-off charges. The stock was down by about 6 percent.
Rates, U.K. budget, German data
Investors have kept an eye rate decisions and on political events. The Polish central bank announced Wednesday it kept its benchmark interest rate unchanged at a record low of 1.5 percent.
The British Finance Minister Philip Hammond delivered his spring budget – the last budget before the government begins Brexit negotiations with the EU. Sterling hit a 7-week low ahead of the new budget, moving below $1.23 against the dollar for the first time since January. At the start of Hammond’s speech, sterling was $1.216.
The growth forecasts for the U.K. for 2019 and 2020 were revised to a lower level compared to the figures presented in November. However, the number for 2017 was revised from 1.4 percent in November to 2 percent on Wednesday.
In Germany, industrial production data showed an uptick in January. The output rose 2.8 percent in the first month of the year compared to December. The data brought some relief after disappointing manufacturing figures on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, the conservative candidate in the French presidential election, Francois Fillon, has been involved in fresh allegations over an undeclared 50,000 euros loan.
Wall Street opened marginally higher with the Dow Jones industrial average, the S&P 500 and Nasdaq barely rising 0.1 percent.
European stocks inch higher after UK budget; Adidas up 7% – CNBC