European stocks struggled for traction on Wednesday, as investors mulled concerns over COVID-19 vaccines and looked toward the start of earnings season. Shares of SAP and LVMH Moet Hennessey and easyJet climbed on well-received results.
The Stoxx Europe 600 index
inched up 0.1% to 436.33, after a modest move up on Tuesday. The German DAX
was flat, the FTSE 100
rose 0.1%, while the French CAC 40
U.S. stock futures
Investors have been absorbing some disappointment on the vaccine front after U.S. health authorities on Tuesday advised a temporary halt of Johnson & Johnson’s
one-shot COVID inoculation due to “extremely rare” blood-clotting issues in six women. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices is expected to hold an emergency meeting to discuss J&J’s vaccine later on Wednesday.
Those officials said the cases were similar to blood clots detected in a small number of people in Europe who were immunized with AstraZeneca’s
shot. Johnson & Johnson is pausing its rollout in Europe, which has been struggling to bring its vaccination program up to speed.
Europe earnings also trickled in, with shares of SAP
up 4.2% and near the top of Stoxx 600 gainers after preliminary first-quarter results beat forecasts and 2021 guidance was slightly higher, as license revenue rebounded and the German business software maker saw a sharp rise in new cloud business.
“The results are likely to alleviate some pessimism; investors will want to understand to what extent new cloud bookings grew and the pace of cloud transition,” said a team of Jefferies analysts led by Julian Serafini, in a note to clients.
Not far behind were shares of easyJet
after the low-cost airline said its headline pretax loss for the first half of fiscal 2021 came in slightly better than expectations. Second quarter cash burn — a measure of how quickly a company is spending money — came in above guidance.
And shares of LVMH Moet-Hennessy
rose 2.6% after consensus-beating first-quarter sales driven by strong performance by flagship brands. In the first period marking the integration of U.S. jeweler Tiffany, LVMH’s watches and jewelry segment saw organic revenue growth of 35%, while core fashion, including Louis Vuitton and Dior labels, posted growth of 52%. Shares of Compagnie Financiere Richemont
were also up over 2%.
Leading decliners were shares of Tesco
which fell 3% after the grocery chain reported a fall in pretax profit for fiscal 2021, driven by pandemic-fueled costs. The company said it expects improved profitability for the year ahead on reduced spending.