European Shares Mixed Before EU Meeting

European stocks recovered from an early slide on Thursday even as the latest PMI readings showed that Europe is enduring a historic collapse in economic activity.

Energy stocks rose broadly as oil prices continued to rebound on the prospect of fresh U.S.-Iran tensions.

Tensions between Washington and Tehran flared a new Wednesday after Iran’s Revolutionary Guard conducted a space launch that could advance the country’s long-range missile program.

U.S. President Donald Trump last night threatened to engage Iranian vessels that “harassed” U.S. navy vessels in the Strait of Hormuz.

The U.S. Congress looked on course to approve nearly $500 billion more in aid to help small businesses, while European Union leaders will make another attempt to agree on a shared fiscal response to a recession looming as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

The pan European Stoxx 600 edged up 0.2 percent to 330.69. France’s CAC 40 index gained 0.3 percent, while the U.K.’s FTSE 100 was marginally lower and the German DAX was down about 0.2 percent.

Groupe Renault advanced 2 percent despite reporting a 19 percent fall in first-quarter revenue.

Rexel, a distributor of electrical supplies, soared 7.7 percent after reporting a marginal fall in sales for the first quarter of 2020.

Wirecard shares jumped 8 percent. The payments company said auditing firm KPMG did not find any manipulation in its audit of the company’s operations in India, Singapore, Third Party Partner Business, Merchant Cash Advance and Digital Lending divisions.

Automaker Daimler rose over 1 percent. The company reported a fall in Q1 preliminary EBIT and said it expects total unit sales and revenue for 2020 to be lower compared to last year.

Software AG gained 2 percent. The enterprise software company expects to deliver a solid performance in the first half of 2020, but sees limited visibility in the second half of the year. The company has confirmed its 2023 ambitions.

Energy stocks were moving higher as oil prices rebounded on signs of production cuts. Total SA climbed 3.4 percent, BP Plc rallied 2.3 percent and Royal Dutch Shell advanced 2.7 percent.

Tullow Oil jumped as much as 26 percent after it agreed to transfer its entire interests in Blocks 1, 1A, 2 and 3A in Uganda and the proposed East African Crude Oil Pipeline System to Total Uganda for cash consideration of $575 million plus potential contingent payments after first oil.

Mining giant Anglo American advanced 1.8 percent after reducing its FY20 capex guidance.

SKF, the world’s biggest maker of ball bearings, surged 6.6 percent after reporting solid first-quarter operating earnings.

Consumer goods company Unilever declined 1.8 percent after withdrawing is 2020 guidance.

Swiss banking major Credit Suisse Group lost 2 percent as it warned of impairments in the coming quarters.

In economic releases, German consumer confidence is set to reach a historic low in May due to the coronavirus pandemic and the control measures taken to curb the virus, survey results from the market research group GfK showed.

The forward-looking consumer sentiment index fell to -23.4 in May from revised 2.3 points in April. The survey was conducted in the first two weeks of April, when consumers started feeling the full impact of the containment measures.

The euro area private sector suffered its steepest falls in business activity and employment due to the measures taken to contain the spread of coronavirus, flash survey data from IHS Markit showed.

The flash IHS Markit composite output index plummeted to an all-time low of 13.5 in April, down from a prior record low of 29.7 in March.

This was the largest monthly collapse in output recorded in over two decades of survey data collection.

The services Purchasing Managers’ Index plunged to a record low 11.7 from 26.4 in March, while the manufacturing PMI came in at 33.6, down from 44.5 in the previous month.

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