Europe ends under pressure as earnings dominate, commodities fall; Unilever pops

European markets came under pressure by Wednesday’s close, ending broadly unchanged on the day after investors waded through a raft of corporate earnings and news from individual stocks.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 finished 0.01 percent down, while major sectors pointed in different directions by the close.

Symbol
Name
Price
Change
%Change
Volume
FTSE FTSE 7302.25 27.42 0.38% 1181744136
DAX DAX 11998.59
UNCH 0% 0
CAC CAC 4895.88
UNCH 0% 102306702
IBEX 35 IBEX 35 Idx 9477.20
UNCH 0% 0

During Wednesday’s early trade, European shares hit a new 14-month high, however markets fluctuated from black to red during trade.

On the bourses front, the U.K.’s FTSE 100 popped 0.38 percent, Germany’s DAX rose 0.26 percent, while the French CAC lagged behind, closing up 0.15 percent. Most peripheral markets closed in the red.

Earnings were a big topic for European markets, with one of the biggest stories coming out from Lloyds Banking Group, after the bank announced its highest full-year profit in over a decade. Shares closed up near the top of the STOXX 600, jumping 4.4 percent, however the banking sector as a whole finished in the red.

Airbus Group meanwhile reported that its profits would increase this year as the European aerospace group seeks to regain control over costs and production problems. However, a net drop in profits and a hefty bill from its A400M military transport plane sent shares to close down 0.8 percent.

Engineering company Weir Group was found at the bottom of the STOXX 600, off 8.9 percent, after the firm posted an 11 percent drop in its annual revenue for 2016, coming in at £1.84 billion, on a constant currency level.

Commodities also weighed on markets with basic resources tumbling over 1 percent and energy also ending in the red, on the back of a solid decline in commodity prices. Brent and WTI slipped 1.5 percent or more during trade, with Reuters reporting that U.S. dollar strength offset some of the positive sentiment seen coming out of OPEC.

Unilever shares rallied in afternoon trade, after the consumer goods group said it was reviewing its options to advance shareholder value. Unilever closed up 5.7 percent.

ThyssenKrupp also outperformed, popping over 4.5 percent following reports that the German industrials company had sold its Brazilian steel plant to Ternium.

On the data front, Germany’s business morale IFO survey showed company executives were more upbeat about the country’s growth outlook than anticipated. The economic institute reported its business climate index rose to 111.0 and matched December’s 33-month high.

In other news, French centrist Francois Bayrou announced that he was offering an alliance with Emmanuel Macron, the independent French presidential candidate – a move which could help support Macron’s performance in the upcoming election; Reuters reported.

Elsewhere, U.S. markets hovered around the flat line when European markets closed, with investors looking ahead to the latest minutes release by the Federal Open Market Committee.