Luxury stocks sparkle in tepid European trading as U.S.-China trade talks loom
Luxury stocks were a silver lining for European markets on Wednesday after strong results from LVMH reassured investors, while looming U.S.-China trade talks kept trading muted and some earnings disappointments weighed.
Europe's STOXX 600 fell 0.2 percent in early deals, with Germany's trade-sensitive DAX down 0.4 percent and France's CAC 40 up 0.3 percent.
Britain's FTSE 100 jumped 0.9 percent thanks to a weaker pound boosting London-listed multinational exporters.
LVMH shares jumped 6.5 percent after upbeat results from the luxury conglomerate, which said it is "cautiously" confident as fourth-quarter sales held up despite fears of a China slowdown.
Hermes, Richemont, Gucci owner Kering, Moncler and Burberry were among the top boosts to the STOXX 600, rising 1.8 to 3.8 percent.
Even Italy's Salvatore Ferragamo, which reported a drop in sales, climbed 2.7 percent as the LVMH beat lifted the luxury sector.
Industrial conglomerate Siemens fell 1.2 percent after reporting weaker-than-expected industrial profit for its first quarter due to profits at its power business plunging.
Shares in French IT consulting firm Atos surged 10 percent to top the STOXX 600 index. The company said it would distribute 23.4 percent of shares in its subsidiary Worldline to shareholders.
Atos peer Alten also gained 6.1 percent after it reported full-year revenue rose in 2018.
Meanwhile pharma giant Novartis was the biggest drag on the STOXX, down 2.5 percent after analysts said its 2019 earnings growth guidance was disappointing.
Swiss drug ingredients maker Lonza tumbled 6.9 percent after it said Chief Executive Richard Ridinger was retiring and reported sales below expectations.
Dutch telecoms firm KPN was another loser after results, falling 3.8 percent after it reported earnings that missed estimates and guided to lower cash flow for this year, and its shares are set to fall 2 percent.