European Stocks Close Higher After Fed Chair Powell's Comments; FTSE Touches Record High

Amanda Andrade-rhoades | Reuters

This is CNBC's live blog covering European markets.

European markets were higher on Wednesday, as investors digested the latest comments from U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell alongside a mix of corporate earnings.

Britain's blue-chip FTSE 100 hit a fresh intraday record high shortly after markets opened in Europe, rising by 0.8% to 7,925.02. It then pared gains to end the day 0.3% higher, closing below 7,900.

The index had hit its previous intraday record high of 7,906.58 on Friday.

The wider European Stoxx 600 index also trimmed its earlier gains to provisionally finish the session up 0.3%. Oil and gas stocks led increases, up by 1.6%.

Speaking at an event at The Economic Club of Washington, D.C., Powell said Tuesday that inflation is beginning to ease but that he expects the "disinflationary process" to be a long one, and cautioned that interest rates could rise more than markets anticipate if the economic data doesn't cooperate.

The major U.S. averages initially jumped during the remarks, before briefly falling into negative territory, and then closing higher.

U.S. stocks opened lower on Wednesday, as investors turned their attention to corporate earnings. Meanwhile Asia-Pacific markets were mixed.

European markets close higher

Europe's Stoxx 600 closed 0.3% higher on Wednesday, with sectors and bourses a mixed bag, as investors digested corporate earnings and Tuesday's speech by Fed Chair Jerome Powell.

The U.K. FTSE 100 closed 0.25% higher, pulling back after touching an intraday record high earlier in the session. Germany's DAX rose by 0.6% and France's CAC 40 fell 0.2%.

Among sectors, energy stocks gained 1.6% and construction fell 1.25%.

— Jenni Reid

Stocks on the move: Millicom, Pandora climb; Adyen, Rockwool fall

The Stoxx 600 was a tale of two halves in afternoon trade, as Pandora and Millicom rocketed higher and Adyen and Rockwool plunged on their respective earnings.

Danish jewellery-maker Pandora was up 12.3% at 3:30 p.m. in London, after it beat estimates by reporting 7% revenue growth, despite warning of an uncertain outlook.

Luxembourg-based telecoms firm Millicom International Cellular was 11.5% higher ahead of its quarterly results of Feb. 10, when analysts expect a rise in revenues, according to Reuters.

At the bottom of the index, Danish mineral wool product manufacturer Rockwool shed 19.4% on its forecast of a 10% sales decline for the year, even as the company also announced record 2022 sales.

Dutch payments firm Adyen fell 14% after it posted a 6.5% profit rise that missed estimates.

— Jenni Reid

U.S. stocks open lower

The three major U.S. indexes opened lower as trading kicked off.

The Dow was down 39 points, or 0.1%, after the first 15 minutes of trading. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite were each down around 0.2%.

Wednesday's open follows a winning day for the three indexes on Tuesday.

— Alex Harring

Pandora shares up 12% on upbeat results

Shares of jewelery company Pandora gained 12%, after the company posted upbeat fourth-quarter results.

The Danish company's quarterly sales hit 9.9 billion Danish crowns ($1.43 billion), above the company's own forecast near 9.6 billion. It reported annual sales around 26 billion in 2022.

For 2023 sales Pandora anticipates organic growth ranging between a drop of 3% and an increase of 3%.

"Whilst the macroeconomic environment remains uncertain, we enter 2023 with confidence," said Alexander Lacik, president and CEO of Pandora.

— Hannah Ward-Glenton

Former BP CEO says it is right to tax windfall profits — so long as they are designed correctly

A former BP CEO said it is right to tax windfall profits — so long as they are designed correctly.

John Browne discussed growing calls for governments to impose higher taxes on Big Oil following record annual earnings. He said it is a balancing act for policymakers, adding that "the important thing about a windfall profit tax is if you put them on, you have to take them off."

Akzo Nobel CEO: More price increases to come

Grégoire Poux-Guillaume, CEO of Akzo Nobel, discussed its fourth-quarter earnings on CNBC's "Squawk Box Europe" and said there are "some price increases to come, if only to keep up with inflation."

Shares of Akzo Nobel jumped as much as 9.7% at the start of trading following the positive fourth-quarter results but gains had dropped to 3.6% by 12.30 p.m. London time.

— Hannah Ward-Glenton

Turkey's stock exchange suspends trading after three-day sell-off

Turkey's stock exchange suspended stocks and derivatives trading following a three-day sell-off after the country suffered its deadliest earthquake in more than a decade.

The BIST index tumbled as the natural disaster prompted fears about its economic impacts. The index lost 7.1% Wednesday before trading was suspended.

The benchmark has lost 16% week-to-date.

— Hannah Ward-Glenton

We expect more pressure on revenue this year, Société Générale CEO says

Frédéric Oudéa, CEO of Société Générale, discusses its fourth-quarter and full-year results for 2022.

FTSE hits new record high

Britain's FTSE 100 index hit another record high shortly after markets opened when it reached 7,925.02. The blue-chip index increased 0.8% from the previous day.

The index hit its latest record high of 7,906.58 Friday.

The new high continues the index's 2023 rally, buoyed by Wall Street gains and U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell's comments that disinflation in the U.S. "has begun."

Gains dropped to 0.65% by 9.35. a.m. London time, putting the index at 7,915.70.

— Hannah Ward-Glenton

Maersk, a global barometer for trade, posts record 2022 earnings but warns of a tough year ahead

Picture Alliance | Picture Alliance | Getty Images
Shipping company Maersk posted record annual earnings for 2022 but warned that profits are set to tumble this year as a "more balanced demand environment" emerges.

Maersk, one of the world's largest container shipping firms, on Wednesday reported a fall in fourth-quarter earnings but posted the best full-year result in its history.

The Danish giant, widely seen as a barometer for global trade, said its earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) reached $6.5 billion in the fourth quarter, below a Refinitiv consensus analyst forecast of $6.77 billion and down from $8 billion for the same quarter of 2021.

This took the full-year underlying EBITDA figure to $36.84 billion, fractionally below the company's forward guidance of $37 billion but its strongest-ever full-year result.

Yet for 2023, Maersk expects underlying EBITDA to plummet to between $8 billion and $11 billion.

It said the guidance was based on the "expectation that inventory correction will be complete by the end of H1 leading to a more balanced demand environment, that 2023 global GDP growth remains muted, and that the global ocean container market will grow in a range of -2.5% to +0.5%."

Read the full story here.

— Elliot Smith

Finland's Neste jumps 12% after beating profit forecast

Finnish refiner Neste posted forecast-beating fourth-quarter operating results, which put the company at the top of the Stoxx 600 index with a 12% jump in share price just after market open.

Gains then slipped back to around 9% by 8.10 a.m. London time.

Higher margins and a positive currency impact helped the renewable and oil-based fuels company to beat its 858 million euro ($922 million) earnings forecast by 36 million euros.

Neste's board of directors put forward a dividend of 1.52 euros per share, up from 0.82 euros last year.

— Hannah Ward-Glenton

CNBC Pro: Goldman Sachs strategist reveals the 'cheap' sectors to own right now

A Goldman Sachs strategist has revealed two assets that are "inexpensive" and look "cheap" in the current high-interest-rate environment.

Sharon Bell, European strategist at the investment bank, said the two value sectors are set to do well as economic growth remains robust. Goldman forecasts global GDP to grow slightly above 2% this year — higher than was forecast by economists just a few months ago.

CNBC Pro subscribers can read more about the two sectors here.

— Ganesh Rao

CNBC Pro: Wall Street pros reveal their top defense stocks — and the same names keep coming up

As geopolitical tensions return and defense spending ramps up, the sector is looking attractive, according to Wall Street pros.

They named their top stock picks within the theme.

Pro subscribers can read more here.

— Zavier Ong

European markets: Here are the opening calls

European markets are heading for a positive open Wednesday.

The U.K.'s FTSE 100 index is expected to open 47 points higher at 7,907, Germany's DAX 147 points higher at 15,454, France's CAC up 65 points at 7,186 and Italy's FTSE MIB up 247 points at 27,406, according to data from IG.

Earnings are set to come from SocGen, Credit Agricole, TotalEnergies, Maersk and Vestas and data releases include Russia inflation figures for December.

— Holly Ellyatt

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