Manufacturing rebound, U.S. stimulus hopes lift European stocks

August 3, 2020 3:30 AM

By Sruthi Shankar

(Reuters) - A modest expansion in euro zone manufacturing activity and hopes of fresh U.S. stimulus lifted European stocks across the board on Monday, with automakers, miners and construction & material firms leading the gains.

After a lukewarm trading session in the morning, the pan-European STOXX 600 <.STOXX> picked up momentum after a strong Wall Street start and closed 2.1% higher. [.N]

German stocks <.GDAXI> outperformed, rising 2.7% after the country reported in July an expansion in factory activity for the first time since 2018, lifting hopes that the impact of the pandemic was easing in the sector.

Factory activity across the euro zone expanded, reflecting an improvement globally as China, Britain and the United States reported upbeat numbers.

However, analysts were cautious about a sustained recovery amid concerns about a further tightening of restrictions in Europe as COVID-19 cases rose.

"The growth in new orders for the Euro area outpaced production in July fuelling the optimism," Citi analyst Luis Costa wrote in a note. "However, Germany's PMI has also reported deep cuts to employment raising concerns about the sustainability of the recent rebound."

Carmakers <.SXAP> were the top gainers in Europe, up 3.8%, after Ferrari (NYSE: RACE) trimmed its full-year earnings forecast but said its second quarter order book rose significantly versus a year ago.

The broad gains helped banking stocks <.SX7P> shed early losses following a set of disappointing earnings.

Europe's biggest lender by assets, HSBC , dropped 2.9% after its half-yearly profits more than halved and the bank warned its bad debt charges could blow past a previous estimate to $13 billion this year.

"While the Asian business remained resilient with limited impact from the US-China tensions and Global Markets had a solid quarter, pressure on Net Interest Margin (NIM) intensified and the quarterly cost of risk increased further, driven by the economic impact of COVID-19," analysts at Morningstar wrote.

France's Societe Generale (OTCBB: SOGN) slipped 0.7% as it reported a 1.26 billion euro ($1.48 billion) quarterly loss.

Spanish stocks <.IBEX> rose 1.4%, but underperformed regional peers as the country saw the biggest jump in coronavirus cases since a lockdown was lifted in June, while data showed international tourist arrivals to Spain fell 98% year on year in June.

British engineer Senior Plc (NYSE: SNR), which counts planemaker Boeing (NYSE: BA) and heavy equipment maker Caterpillar (NYSE: CAT) as some of its biggest customers, tumbled 15.1% as it shelved its interim dividend after swinging to a first-half loss.

(Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty and Andrew Heavens)

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