By Peter Nurse
Investing.com - European stock markets traded higher Thursday, with healthy results from software giant SAP (DE:SAPG) pointing to an economic recovery but investors remain wary of the mounting coronavirus cases ahead of the new earnings season.
At 4:10 AM ET (0810 GMT), the DAX in Germany traded 1.3% higher, the CAC 40 in France rose 0.4% and the U.K.'s FTSE index was up 0.1%.
Helping the German index outperform Thursday were strong gains from SAP, up 7.5% at a new all-time high, with the business software giant posting a rise of 8% in its second quarter operating profit, helped by a recovery in software license revenue in the Asia Pacific and Japan region.
In the U.K., National Grid (LON:NG) stock fell 3.4% after the U.K. regulator proposed a five-year investment of around 25 billion pounds to transform the country's energy networks, but halved the network company's allowed rate of return.
Elsewhere, fashion retailer boohoo.com (LON:BOOH) shares bounced sharply after its biggest shareholder, Jupiter Fund Management (LON:JUP), delivered a vote of confidence in the company by raising its stake to over 10%. Boohoo 's stock fell by over one-third in the last three days after revelations about unhygienic and exploitative conditions in factories in the U.K.
Finance ministers from the euro area are due to meet virtually Thursday, ahead of a summit of their leaders on July 17-18, looking to advance discussions over the bloc’s multi-year budget and a proposed 750 billion euro ($851 billion) recovery fund.
The need for agreement on the recovery fund is becoming more apparent. Although Europe as a whole appears to have done a good job of containing the Covid-19 virus, the European Commission revised its economic forecasts for this year downward to show a contraction of 8.7% in the euro zone.
Additionally, there are now over 12 million global cases, according to Johns Hopkins University data, with a number of countries re-imposing lockdowns to curb fresh outbreaks.
The U.S. has posted its largest number of daily new infections since the outbreak began, and investors will be wary of what the new earnings season will deliver when it begins in earnest next week.
Oil prices stagnated Thursday, despite U.S. government data showing Wednesday that gasoline stockpiles fell by much more than expected as demand climbed to its highest level since late March.
Prices have been held in a narrow band over the past two weeks as concern about the pandemic globally tempers hopes for a recovery in fuel demand.
At 4:10 AM ET, U.S. crude futures traded 0.4% lower at $40.74 a barrel. The international benchmark Brent contract fell 0.3% to $43.17.
Elsewhere, gold futures rose 0.1% to $1,822.95/oz, while EUR/USD traded at 1.1341, up 0.1%.