Upbeat earnings lift European shares; Novo Nordisk hits record high Reuters via biedexmarkets.com

© Reuters. The German share price index DAX graph is pictured at the stock exchange in Frankfurt, Germany, January 24, 2024. REUTERS/Staff

By Shristi Achar A

(Reuters) -European shares gained on Wednesday, rising for the sixth straight session, on a boost from robust corporate updates, while investors awaited the U.S. Federal Reserve’s policy decision later in the day.

The pan-European index was up 0.1% as of 0934 GMT.

Financial services rose 0.4%, lifted by a 1.1% gain in Spanish lender Santander (BME:), which posted a record-high profit for the last quarter of 2023, beating forecasts.

Industrials received a push from shares of Beijer Ref, up 7.5% after the Swedish wholesaler of cooling technology reported fourth-quarter sales above expectations and forecast continued growth in 2024.

Investor attention was centred on the Fed’s interest rate verdict, due at 1900 GMT, for clues regarding the timing of interest rate cuts in the world’s largest economy.

“The Fed is likely to open the door further to rate cuts at its policy meeting today, while leaving rates on hold this month,” analysts at UBS Global Wealth Management noted.

“But recent solid growth and labor data from the U.S. suggest the Fed will likely not rush to start cutting rates at the pace markets currently expect.”

Upbeat earnings reports from Europe Inc and increasing bets around an interest rate cut from the European Central Bank drove the index to two-year highs earlier this week, and on course to clock its third straight month of gains.

Heavyweight healthcare stocks were in spotlight, with Danish drugmaker Novo Nordisk (NYSE:) adding 1.4% to notch an all-time high after Europe’s most valuable company forecast another year of double-digit sales and operating profit growth due to its popular weight-loss drug Wegovy.

The stock pulled Copenhagen’s OMX 20 to a fresh record high, last up 0.9%.

Swiss drugmaker Novartis (SIX:), however, fell 4.1% on missing estimates for fourth-quarter net income, with the stock dragging healthcare sector down 0.5%.

Among others, H&M (ST:) slumped 8.7% to the bottom of STOXX 600 after the Swedish fashion retailer posted a fall in fourth-quarter margin, while its CEO decided to step down.

On the data front, French consumer prices rose 3.4% year-on-year in January, a touch above expectations, but inflation slowed from the previous month, according to preliminary data. A separate reading showed German retail sales fell unexpectedly, by 1.6% in December.

Yield on Germany’s 10-year government bond fell following the data points, and was last at 2.210%, while Paris’ blue-chip scaled an intra-day record peak, up 0.1%. [GVD/EUR]