/European stocks climb as global markets digest Fed decision; Nokia up 12% – CNBC

European stocks climb as global markets digest Fed decision; Nokia up 12% – CNBC

LONDON — European stocks advanced on Thursday as markets react to the U.S. Federal Reserve’s decision to hold interest rates near zero and digest a fresh round of corporate earnings.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 was up 0.3% by early afternoon deals, with telecoms and banks climbing 1.4% to lead gains while autos fell 2%.

It’s a busy day for Europe’s markets, with Total, Shell and Airbus among the companies reporting earnings before the bell.

Shell slightly exceeded first-quarter profit expectations to record adjusted earnings of $3.2 billion and raised its dividend by around 4%, sending the oil major’s stock 1.1% higher.

France’s Total also saw its shares climb 1.1% after profits surged to pre-pandemic levels on the back of stronger commodity prices.

Airbus also slightly beat expectations in its first-quarter results, with the world’s largest planemaker reporting a particularly strong free cash flow of 1.26 billion euros ($1.53 billion). Airbus shares gained 2.1%.

Spain’s Linea Directa, formerly the insurance unit of Bankinter, surged more than 31% in its market debut in Madrid on Thursday to lead the Stoxx 600.

Finnish telecoms giant Nokia soared 16% after beating first-quarter revenue and profit expectations on the back of strong network and 5G sales.

At the bottom of the European blue chip index, Italian steel pipe supplier Tenaris fell more than 7% after missing first-quarter core profit expectations.

Stateside earnings deluge

Market focus has been dominated by the U.S. central bank and earnings reports this week. At the end of a two-day policy meeting on Wednesday, the Federal Reserve said that it would hold interest rates near zero.

Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said the recovery is “uneven and far from complete.” He added that it’s still not time to discuss reducing policy accommodation, including asset purchases.

Thursday is the busiest day of the U.S. earnings season, with roughly 11% of the S&P 500 slated to provide quarterly updates. Caterpillar, McDonald’s, Comcast and Merck are among the names on deck before the market opens, whereas Amazon and Twitter will post quarterly results after the market closes.

U.S. economic data on Thursday will give investors an update on the progress of the economic recovery. Initial jobless claims numbers will be released, with economists surveyed by Dow Jones expecting a print of 528,000.

Stocks in Asia-Pacific mostly rose on Thursday as investors reacted to the U.S. Federal Reserve’s decision to keep its easy money policy in place.

On the data front, euro zone economic sentiment surged in April, with the European Commission’s monthly survey showing optimism climbing to 110.3 points compared to 100.9 in March, vastly outstripping estimates in a Reuters poll.

Investors will also have an eye on a fresh set of German inflation data, which is seen exceeding the European Central Bank’s target of close to, but below, 2% for the second consecutive month.

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– CNBC’s Pippa Stevens contributed to this market report.

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