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European Stocks Close Higher on Strong Earnings; Ocado Up 6%

Peter Nicholls | Reuters
  • The pan-European Stoxx 600 closed up 0.5% with most sectors and major bourses in positive territory.
  • Earnings came from TeamViewer, Santander, Julius Baer, Glencore, Novartis and Vodafone, among others.
  • Annual euro zone inflation hit an all-time high in January, according to preliminary Eurostat figures published Wednesday.

LONDON — European stocks closed higher on Wednesday as traders digested a strong set of corporate results.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 closed up 0.5% with most sectors and major bourses in positive territory. Financials were among the top performers amid expectations of higher interest rates.

Corporate earnings were a key driver of individual share price action on Wednesday, with TeamViewer, Santander, Julius Baer, Glencore, Novartis and Vodafone, among others.

Santander reported a jump in fourth-quarter profits Wednesday. The Spanish lender said it released 750 million euros ($847.5 million) in Covid-related provisions in the quarter as economic conditions improved. Santander shares were up slightly.

Toward the top of the Stoxx 600, British online supermarket Ocado climbed almost 6% after Credit Suisse double upgraded the stock to "outperform" and raised its price target.

Julius Baer slid nearly 6% to the bottom of the European blue chip index after its earnings report.

On Wall Street, stocks were mostly lower Wednesday as new figures showed private payrolls fell by 301,000 in January, well below a Dow Jones estimate for growth of 200,000.

Back in Europe, annual euro zone inflation hit an all-time high in January, according to preliminary Eurostat figures published Wednesday.

Consumer prices rose 5.1% year-on-year after a 5% rise in December as energy prices continued to soar, exerting further pressure on the European Central Bank to tighten monetary policy.

Investors in Europe are also keeping an eye on tensions between Russia and Ukraine after President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday that the West had ignored Moscow's security concerns over Ukraine and NATO.

"It's already clear now ... that fundamental Russian concerns were ignored," Putin said at a press conference Tuesday, according to a Reuters translation. Separately, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson met with his Ukrainian counterpart in Kyiv on Tuesday.

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— CNBC's Ryan Browne contributed to this market report.

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