European shares climb on earnings cheer, GDP data; STOXX logs best month since Nov 2020

·2-min read
German share price index DAX graph is pictured at the stock exchange in Frankfurt

By Devik Jain and Anisha Sircar

(Reuters) - European shares rose on Friday and logged their first monthly gain in four as a host of strong earnings from corporate Europe overshadowed fears of a global recession, with some strong economic data also lending support.

The pan-European STOXX 600 was up 1.3% to a near two-month high, and logged its best monthly performance since November 2020.

Boosting sentiment, the euro zone economy grew much faster than expected in the second quarter, with gross domestic product rising 0.7% quarter-on-quarter in the April-June period for a 4.0% year-on-year gain, strongly beating expectations of a 0.2% quarterly and 3.4% annual gain.

However, inflation rose to another record high in July, with consumer price growth accelerating to 8.9% in the month from 8.6% a month earlier, far above expectations for 8.6% and well clear of the ECB's 2% target.

"The picture still looks patchy, with uneven dynamics in terms of consumption and investment - we still expect a material deterioration in the outlook in Q3 and a mildly negative print in Q4," wrote Morgan Stanley economists and strategists in a note.

"Underlying inflationary pressure remains strong and we expect further increases in the coming months... We see mounting headwinds from slowing growth and falling input cost pressures."

Meanwhile, data on Thursday showed the U.S. economy shrank for a second straight quarter.

Worries about a recession have led to scaled down bets of central bank policy tightening, with money markets now pricing in a roughly 44% chance of a 50 basis-point hike by the ECB in September, compared with a 50% chance earlier this week.

Oil stocks led gains after crude prices jumped more than $4 a barrel as attention turned to next week's OPEC+ meeting, while bank stocks jumped 1.6%, with British lender NatWest climbing 8.1% after raising its full-year revenue outlook.

Luxury stocks got a boost from strong quarterly sales growth at Hermes and L'Oreal. Shares of the Birkin bag maker gained 7.5%, while those of the cosmetics group added 3.8%.

Among other stocks, France's BNP Paribas and Spain's BBVA gained 2.9% and 6.0%, respectively, as the lenders reported better-than-expected quarterly profits.

Signify fell 11.8% after the world's biggest maker of lights said its profit margins would decline this year.

Carmaker Renault rose 5.1% after upgrading its full-year outlook, saying its turnaround plan to improve profitability was delivering results ahead of schedule.

(Reporting by Devik Jain and Anisha Sircar in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta and Ken Ferris)