European Shares Rise As Virus Concerns Ease

European stocks rose on Wednesday to hover near a record high as a drop in the number of new coronavirus cases helped ease investor concerns surrounding its economic impact.

According to the National Health Commission, 2,015 new cases had been reported over the last 24 hours, declining for a second day.

Hopes of additional stimulus measures from China as well as recent data indicating continued strength in the U.S. economy also helped underpin investor sentiment.

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell told Congress on Tuesday that the U.S. economy is in a good place, despite a potential threat from the coronavirus outbreak in China.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index rose 0.3 percent to a record high of 429.88. The German DAX climbed 0.6 percent, France’s CAC 40 index edged up 0.3 percent and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 added 0.2 percent.

French luxury goods company Kering rallied 2.4 percent. The company’s net profit for 2019 fell on one-offs, but fourth-quarter revenue grew 11 percent on a comparable basis.

Automakers, which depend heavily on Chinese demand for their exports, were moving higher. Renault rose 0.7 percent and Peugeot gained 1.6 percent.

German automakers BMW, Daimler and Volkswagen were up between 1.3 percent and 2.5 percent.

Swiss specialty chemicals company Clariant AG gained 0.7 percent as it announced the appointment of Stephan Lynen as Chief Financial Officer as of April 1.

Dutch brewer Heineken NV surged 6.2 percent after its fiscal 2019 net profit on IFRS basis rose 13.2 percent to 2.17 billion euros from 1.91 billion euros in the prior year.

Akzo Nobel NV jumped 3.2 percent. The company reported that its fourth-quarter adjusted operating income rose 23 percent to 223 million euros from the prior year, driven by ongoing pricing initiatives, margin management and cost-saving programs.

Basic resource stocks were moving higher on hopes of additional stimulus measures from China. Anglo American advanced 1.7 percent, while Glencore and Antofagasta rose around 1.2 percent each.

Rio Tinto shares gained 1.6 percent. The mining giant announced that it will conduct a strategic review of its unit ISAL smelter in Iceland.

Dunelm Group, a homewares retailer, surged 6 percent. The company’s first-half profit before tax increased 19.4 percent to 83.6 million pounds from 70.0 million pounds last year.

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