European equity markets edged lower Tuesday as cautious sentiment ahead of next week's US Presidential elections offset strong factory data from China and better-than-expected earnings in the energy sector.
The Stoxx 600 index fell by around 0.3% by mid-morning in Europe and was quoted at around 3337.98 points. London's benchmark FTSE 100 , which opened 0.4% higher thanks in large part to blowout second quarter earnings from Royal Dutch Shell plc, (RDS.A) , one of the index's biggest stocks, pared those gains and was little changed at 6959.68 my mid-session.
Shares in the oil giant rose more than 3%, extending its six-month gain to 18%, after it said CCS earnings attributable to shareholders came in at $2.79 billion in the third quarter, well ahead of the market's expectation of $1.79 billion and well ahead of the $1.45 billion recorded in the three months ending in June. Cash flow from operating activities, the company said, was $8.5 billion, significantly higher than the $2.3 billion recorded in the second quarter.
Royal Dutch Shell shares were quoted at 2,109.5 pence each in early London trading.
The rise offset a 1% decline for its rival, BP plc (BP) , which also posted better-than-expected third quarter earnings but saw its share price fall after the group trimmed capital expenditure plans.
Standard Chartered plc, the U.K.-based investment bank with significant emerging markets exposure, was one of the major downside performers in early trading as its shares fell more than 6% following lower-than-expected third quarter earnings.
Standard Chartered said its Q3 net came in at $458 million, well shy of the $520 consensus estimate. Shares in the bank were quoted at 685 pence each in early London trading.
Still, the overall positive tone to the session extended from solid gains in Asia trading after China manufacturing PMI data from both Caixin and the National Bureau of Statistics jumped more than expected in October, with the Caixin index rising to 51.2 from 50.1 and the official PMI jumping to 51.2 from 50.4. Both indices signaled that the pace of growth quickened to a 27-month high.
Capital Economics' Julian Evans-Pritchard called the data a "welcome sign that the recent cyclical recovery continued to gain momentum going into Q4," though he noted that faster credit growth is driving the strength and probably won't prove sustainable.
Away from equities, Britain's pound sterling traded at 1.2272 against the US dollar, its highest level since October 21, as traders lifted the beleaguered currency in the wake of Bank of England Governor Mark Carney's decision to extend his term until 2019.