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Stocks - Europe Higher; Vaccine and Recovery Fund Hopes Help

·3-min read

By Peter Nurse - European stock markets traded higher Wednesday, with investors buoyed by optimism about a coronavirus vaccine as well as the chance a key EU summit will lead to more stimulus.

At 3:45 AM ET (0745 GMT), the DAX in Germany traded 0.7% higher, the CAC 40 in France rose 0.9% and the U.K.'s FTSE index was up 0.9%.

Helping the positive tone was the news that the first Covid-19 vaccine tested in people has shown promising early results.

U.S. biotech firm Moderna 's (NASDAQ:MRNA experimental Covid-19 vaccine was declared safe and generated “robust” immune responses in all 45 volunteers taking part in the study, according to early-stage human trial results published in the New England Journal of Medicine on Tuesday.

“This does not mean that it may lead to a vaccine in the end, but it is an important step,” Danske Bank analysts said in a research note.

The first earnings out of Europe have been a stiff test of valuations that appear to concentrate more on levels of stimulus than the economic outlook.

ASML (AS:ASML) stock fell 1.1% after reporting a near 58% jump in second-quarter profit but still fell short of market estimates. The company, a key supplier to computer chip makers, maintained its growth outlook for 2020 despite the coronavirus pandemic.

Burberry (LON:BRBY) stock fell 5% after the U.K.-based luxury group said it expects sales for the six months through September to be down around 15%-20% from a year earlier, despite a solid recovery in demand since April.

Svenska Handelsbanken (ST:SHBa) stock fell 2.3% after posting a 6.1% drop in second-quarter net profit as lower interest rates dented income.

On the flip side, Swedish telecom operator Tele2 (ST:TEL2b) jumped 3.8% as it reaffirmed its 2020 earnings outlook and plans for an extra shareholder payout.

Attention is likely to drift to the European Union's summit later this week, with hopes for a breakthrough on a rescue financing package that will limit the economic damage to the bloc.

Additionally, the European Central Bank is set to meet Thursday, but isn't expected to ease policy any further this time.

Oil prices pushed higher Wednesday, helped by a sharp fall in U.S. crude inventories of 8.3 million barrels in the week to July 10, according to data from industry group the American Petroleum Institute. Official numbers from the Energy Information Administration are due later Wednesday.

The so-called OPEC+ bloc is set to decide whether to extend output cuts of 9.7 million barrels per day that end in July or ease them to 7.7 million barrels per day.

At 3:45 AM ET, U.S. crude futures traded 0.9% higher at $40.66 a barrel, while the international benchmark Brent contract rose 0.8% to $43.23.

Elsewhere, gold futures were flat at $1,813.05/oz, while EUR/USD traded at 1.1431, up 0.3%.

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