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Global stocks boosted by bright earnings, US growth data

·3-min read
Strong earnings from Royal Dutch Shell and other companies boosted stocks

World equity markets gained ground on Thursday as upbeat corporate earnings and US data showing solid second-quarter economic growth brightened the recovery from Covid-19.

Shares in London rose 0.9 percent on a barrage of positive company results, including from Covid-19 vaccine maker AstraZeneca, energy major Shell and lender Lloyds.

Frankfurt added 0.5 percent and Paris gained 0.4 percent, boosted by earnings at German carmaker Volkswagen and France's TotalEnergies.

Trading in New York was buoyant as well, with all three major indices ending higher and within striking distance of all-time records following strong results from Ford, Comcast and others.

"Earnings remain very promising," said OANDA analyst Craig Erlam.

The US economy returned to its pre-pandemic level in the second quarter, but the 6.5 percent annualized rate of expansion, while good, was slower than expected.

Earnings have been "spectacular," said Art Hogan, chief strategist at National Securities, adding that investors were also pleased at the Federal Reserve's restatement Wednesday of a pledge to maintain stimulus for longer.

"You combine those three things, better data, better earnings, and... a patient Fed, you likely have an environment that's going to be advantageous for equities."

British pharmaceuticals giant AstraZeneca revealed its coronavirus vaccine generated $1.2 billion (1 billion euros) in sales in the first half of the year.

The news came one day after US drugmaker Pfizer lifted its annual revenue and profit projections on surging demand for its vaccine against the virus.

The oil sector was energized by news that both Shell and Total rebounded back into profit in the second quarter of 2021, boosted by the crude market's recovery from virus turmoil. US oil giants ExxonMobil and Chevron are scheduled to report results on Friday.

Among other individual companies, Facebook joined the group of tech giants to report better-than-expected results. But shares tumbled four percent as it warned that growth was expected to slow due to regulatory actions and a tweak to the Apple iPhone operating software that could hurt its ad targeting.

Robinhood Markets dropped 8.4 percent after the fast-growing stock trading app that boasts a young customer base made its Nasdaq debut despite outsized concerns over government scrutiny.

- Key figures around 2100 GMT -

New York - Dow: UP 0.4 percent at 35,084.53 (close)

New York - S&P 500: UP 0.4 percent at 4,419.15 (close)

New York - Nasdaq: UP 0.1 percent at 14,778.26 (close)

London - FTSE 100: UP 0.9 percent at 7,078.42 (close)

Frankfurt - DAX 30: UP 0.5 percent at 15,640.47 (close)

Paris - CAC 40: UP 0.4 percent at 6,633.77 (close)

EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.3 percent at 4,116.77 (close)

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 0.7 percent at 27,782.42 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng Index: UP 3.3 percent at 26,315.32 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: UP 1.5 percent at 3,411.72 (close)

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1889 from $1.1845 at 2100 GMT

Euro/pound: DOWN at 85.13 pence from 85.19 pence

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.3960 from $1.3902

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 109.48 yen from 109.91 yen

Brent North Sea crude: UP 1.8 percent at $76.05 per barrel

West Texas Intermediate: UP 1.7 percent at $73.62 per barrel

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