Banks, miners lead European markets higher as Fed calms inflation woes

(Reuters) – European shares rose on Thursday, led by sectors expected to benefit from a broader economic recovery, as the U.S. Federal Reserve signalled it would maintain a loose monetary policy, while Standard Chartered fell as its profit slumped.

FILE PHOTO: The German share price index DAX graph is pictured at the stock exchange in Frankfurt, Germany, February 17, 2021. REUTERS/Staff

Shares in the British bank slipped 5% despite it restoring its dividend and reaffirming long-term profit goals in a display of confidence about its ability to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The wider European banking index, however, jumped 1.4%, benefiting in part from higher bond yields, which have risen on bets of a pickup in inflation with an improvement in the global economy.

U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell on Wednesday calmed fears that higher inflation would also lead to a tapering of monetary stimulus, saying the central bank would not change policy until the economy was clearly improving.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index was up 0.4% by 0847 GMT, with mining and energy stocks also tracking gains in commodity prices.

“Today’s price action emphasises just how much capital remains on the sidelines,” said Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst at OANDA.

“The global recovery and FOMO (fear of missing out) trade trump all once the day-to-day noise is stripped out. With central banks globally keeping the monetary spigots open, I, for one, won’t disagree.”

A raft of easy money issued by major central banks last year has helped the benchmark STOXX 600 surge more than 50% since a coronavirus-driven crash in March 2020.

Although the European index has so far underperformed the U.S. S&P 500, which is scaling record highs, fund managers expect a rebound in corporate profits to send European stocks to all-time peaks by the end of 2021, according to a recent Reuters poll.

Overall, earnings at STOXX 600 firms are expected to rebound about 38% in the first quarter of 2021 following an estimated 16.5% fall in the fourth quarter of last year, according to Refinitiv data.

All eyes later in the day will be on February consumer confidence data from the euro zone.

In company news, Anheuser-Busch InBev, the world’s largest brewer, tumbled 4.4% even as it reported a higher-than-expected core quarterly profit, while Bayer dropped 3.5% after posting a drop in fourth-quarter core earnings due to competition in the North American agriculture market.

In a bright spot, steel pipe maker Tenaris jumped 10.7% to the top of the STOXX 600 as quarterly sales rose from the previous quarter due to a pick up in drilling activity.

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