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Europe: Shares hold four-year peak, creep towards record highs
[BENGALURU] European stocks scaled a fresh four-year peak on Wednesday driven by a surge in shares of consumer-focused companies that helped offset declines in autos and miners, while investors awaited new developments from US-China trade talks.
The pan-European Stoxx 600 index closed 0.2 per cent higher and was about 2 per cent away from reclaiming its record high level, hit last in April 2015.
European shares have logged strong gains this week on growing optimism over a trade truce between the United States and China. But minutes after the market closing bell struck, a Reuters report cited sources to say that a Phase-1 deal could be delayed until December.
"All the good news regarding trade has also been largely priced in, so if the rumors prove to be wrong the risk to the potential downside are actually far bigger," said Simona Gambarini, markets economist at Capital Economics in London.
"We no longer expect a correction in equities but do think there aren't too many reasons to be positive given we are already close to record levels and economic data is still poor with earnings growth weaker than in the past few years."
Gains on the benchmark index were led by food and beverage as well as the retail sector with some earnings to digest.
Ahold Delhaize emerged as the top gainer on the Stoxx 600 after the Dutch supermarket operator reported upbeat third-quarter results, citing strong sales in its Food Lion and Hannaford chains in the US.
A 4 per cent rise in shares of Brenntag boosted the chemicals sub-sector after the German distributor posted better-than-expected third-quarter profits.
Adidas was among the few disappointments, down 5 per cent after the German sportswear company said its third-quarter growth was held back by a weaker performance from Yeezy shoes designed by Kanye West.
Among the main drags, car makers fell 0.3 per cent with BMW's better-than-expected third-quarter results doing little to cheer up the sector, while commodity-linked stocks fell for the first time in three sessions.
Banks ended flat after rallying as much as 1 per cent earlier in the day after French lender Societe Generale raised its capital ratio despite a profit fall in the third-quarter and on hopes that a new banking reform may soon take shape for the euro trading bloc.
European banks which closed at their highest levels since May are up 6 per cent year-to-date, leaving to Telecoms the trophy of worst performing sector, up less than 5 per cent this year.