European benchmarks were mixed at the opening to the week Monday as investors responded to a volley of corporate earnings and economic announcements.
Core eurozone inflation in the eurozone came in ahead of expectations for the month of July, suggesting that price pressures are strengthening on the Continent even after adjusting for increases in energy prices, which helped to take some of the froth out of continental equity markets during the session. However, selling was tempered by a series of positive corporate earnings reports and a number of the broker upgrades.
The FTSE 100 gained 0.50% in London to be quoted at 7,404 while its mid-market sibling, the FTSE 250, rose 0.31% to 19,790. Across the English Channel, the CAC 40 index slipped 0.27% to 5,117 in Paris while the DACX index dropped 0.26% to 12,130 in Frankfurt. Benchmarks were mixed in Southern Europe for the session, with the IBEX breaking even in Madrid while the FTSE MIB had posted a quarter percent gain in Milan.
In individual stocks, emerging markets bank Standard Chartered (SCBFF) rose nearly 3% after its Asia focused rival, HSBC (HSBC) , reported a better than expected set of half year results. Standard Chartered is set to deliver its own interims on Wednesday.
HSBC saw pretax profit rise by 5% to $10.2 billion during the recent six months and announced a further $2 billion of share buybacks Monday. The shares were up just more than 2% in the last hour of trading.
Astrazeneca (AZN - Get Report) shares rose around 3% Monday after its Imfinzi (durvalumab) oncology drug won breakthrough designation from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of locally-advanced, unresectable non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). The assessment and approval process for Imfinzi in NSCLC will now be expedited by the FDA.
Last week Astra told investors that Imfinzi had failed to show an improvement in progression free survival for first line lung cancer when administered as a combination with tremelimumab. The admission prompted analysts to cut their forecast for 2023 sales of Imfinzi from $4 billion in 2023 down to just $1.3 billion and drove a 15% rout in the drugmaker's share price.
British water utility Severn Trent (SVTRF) and United Utilities (UUGRY) both saw their shares rise more than 3% during the session after Severn was upgraded by analysts at RBC Capital Markets, who said that concerns over regulatory risk have been over egged by some investors.
Over in Paris, utility Veolia (VLEEY) , saw its shares rise more than 3.5% to the top of the CAC 40 index Monday after it said that strong international growth has driven its first-half revenue more than 4% higher to €12.34 billion ($14.44 billion).
It was joined near to the top of the blue chip index by construction firm Vinci (VCISF) , which gained in response to Friday's after-market first-half results announcement, in which it reiterated earlier guidance for full-year earnings growth on the back of a healthier construction environment in its domestic market, France.
In Frankfurt, both RWE (RWEOY) and E.ON SE (EONGY) topped the DAX Monday after analysts at Berenberg raised their dividend forecasts for E.ON and added the company to their Alpha List of long-term winners citing, among other things, a recent windfall that will likely help to shore up its balance sheet.
Both RWE and E.ON won substantial tax refunds from the German government in June after certain nuclear fuel taxes levied on the industry in the wake of Japan's 2011 Fukushima disaster were deemed to have been illegal. For RWE, the award was worth €2.85 billion ($3.35 billion) and around €420 million of interest.