LONDON (The Deal) -- European markets opened stronger Wednesday, following a lead from Asia, although Germany was held back at times by the widening emissions scandal at Volkswagen (VLKAF) where questions are now being raised about some of the group's gasoline engines as well as diesels.
The company announced it is setting aside a further €2 billion ($2.18 billion) to the €6.7 billion set aside for repairs. However, even VW picked up after an initial plunge at the open, and the share was back in positive territory by mid-morning. It was up 2.18% at 118.50.
Meanwhile, the latest services sector purchasing managers' index from Markit Group saw another strong result from the U.K. and a positive, if more feeble, outturn from the eurozone. Individual country PMIs in the eurozone were mixed. Spain did well, as did France. Germany was up on last month, but performed less well than hoped. Optimism about the year ahead among German services sector companies was at its lowest level since the end of 2014, Markit said.
In London, the FTSE 100 was up 0.92% at 6,442.11, while in Paris the CAC 40 was flirting with the psychologically important 5,000 threshold at 4,984.5. In Frankfurt, after a brief spell in the sun, the DAX slipped 0.15% below last night's close to 10.934.31.
London was driven by a pick-up in mining and commodities stocks, after Glencore (GLNCY) repeated its full year earnings before interest and tax guidance for its marketing and trading arm of between $2.5 billion and $2.6 billion. Glencore said it aims to have net debt down to below $25 billion by the end of the year. Glencore topped the FTSE100 leaderboard this morning, up 6.03% at 126.65 pence.
However, the big fallers of the day were the real estate and construction sectors. FTSE 250 real estate agency Countrywide (CTYWY) dropped 13.4% to 402.6 pence, after it said profits were down 11% in the first nine months and there would be only a modest recovery in the final quarter. Property stocks were hit by a sector downgrade from an analyst.
Retailer Marks & Spencer (MAKSY) was up 3.46% at 538 pence, despite reporting a 23% drop in first half pretax profits to £216 million. It said its food division delivered sales growth of 3.3% which reduced the impact of a 0.4% decline in its general merchandise division and announced an increased first half dividend of 6.8 pence a share.
Business services provider Xchanging (XCNGF) dropped nearly 6% to 158.5 pence after reporting that U.S. private equity investor Apollo Global Management ruled out an offer. Apollo's withdrawal leaves British outsourcer Capita as the only bidder. Its offer of 160 pence values Xchanging's share capital at £412 million ($635 million).
Central European budget airline Wizz Air Holdings followed the pattern of other airlines that have announced decent results over the past week, by seeing its share price fall. The company announced increased first half net profit of €182.1 million ($199 million), increased passenger numbers and an increased load factor. However, the London-traded share fell 4.89% to 1,850 pence, as the airline said it foresaw an underlying loss in the second half, similar to last year's.
Although the Paris market was up this morning, there was a gloomy announcement from French security software provider Oberthur Technologies, a portfolio company of private-equity group Advent International Corp. that it has postponed its planned initial public offering due to market conditions.
Dutch bank ING Groep (ING) - Get Report announced better than expected third quarter results, with net income up 14.7% from a year ago at €1.06 billion. It said it was on track to exit its insurance arm NN by the end of 2016. The share was up 2.66% at €13.50.
In Asia, the big news overnight was the triple IPO of Japan Post Holdings and its banking and insurance arms, which between them raised $11.7 billion, after each of the three priced at the top of their respective ranges and their shares all surged at the start of trading. By the end of the first day, after the largest IPO globally so far this year, Japan Post Holdings Co. Ltd. was up 25.71% at ¥1,760.0, Japan Post Bank Co. Ltd. was up 15.24% at ¥1.671, and Japan Post Insurance Co. Ltd. was up 55.91% at ¥3,430.
In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 closed up 1.30% at 18,926.91, while the Topix finished the day up 0.88% at 1,540.43. In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng rose 2.15% to 23,053.57 and in China, the tech-heavy Shenzhen Composite ticked up 5.12% at 2,089.289, despite confusion over republication of an old news report suggesting an electronic trading link with Hong Kong was to open within weeks. That was later denied. The Shanghai Composite was up 4.31% 3,459.64.