European shares flat as UBS unveils Archegos hit, travel stocks shine

(Reuters) – European stocks were largely flat on Tuesday following earnings from blue-chip companies such as HSBC and BP, while UBS became the latest bank to disclose a hit from dealing with U.S. investment firm Archegos.

FILE PHOTO: The German share price index DAX graph is pictured at the stock exchange in Frankfurt, Germany, April 26, 2021. REUTERS/Staff

The pan-European STOXX 600 index slipped 0.1%, with a record high for travel & leisure stocks and gains in energy shares offsetting losses in automakers.

Oil major BP rose 1.9% after its first-quarter profit soared due to stronger oil prices and bumper revenue from natural gas trading.

Asia-focused lender HSBC gained 1.7% after it reported an upbeat quarterly profit as successful vaccine rollouts in key markets promised a brighter economic outlook.

Meanwhile, UBS fell 2% to a near 11-week low as it took an unexpected $774 million hit from Archegos, overshadowing a forecast-beating 14% rise in quarterly net profit.

Still, European markets were caught in a tight trading range ahead of the U.S. Federal Reserve’s policy decision on Wednesday, with policymakers expected to confirm that they will maintain easy monetary policy to bolster the economy.

“Ultimately, the exact timing of tapering will be a judgement call by the Fed,” Unicredit analysts said.

“They will likely want to see a sequence of better data on jobs and economic activity that substantially reduces the ‘gaps’ to pre-crisis levels, reinforced by a sustainable improvement in the health situation.”

Global stocks have hit record highs recently on optimism about a economic recovery as the pace of vaccination picked up across developed economies.

About a quarter of STOXX companies are set to publish earnings this week. Among the 17% that have reported so far, 65% topped profit estimates, according to Refinitiv IBES data.

Sweden’s Evolution Gaming Group jumped 8% as it reported a 150% jump in quarterly core earnings as the COVID-19 pandemic boosted demand for online casino games.

Danish freight forwarder DSV Panalpina surged 8.2% to the top of STOXX 600 after it agreed to buy the logistics division of Kuwait’s Agility Public Warehousing Co in a deal worth $4.1 billion.

Swedbank fell 3.6% and Norwegian aluminium maker Norsk Hydro dropped 3.0% despite reporting better-than-expected net profits.

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