European Stocks Open Higher, Credit Agricole Experiences Strong Gains

On Thursday European stocks edged higher, helped by solid earnings releases, including gains for Credit Agricole during a busy day for corporate news. The German DAX traded 0.5% higher,  U.K.’s FTSE 100 index  climbed 0.5% and the French CAC 40 rose 0.2%.

Over the past few months, stock markets have posted strong gains on expectations that additional U.S. fiscal stimulus coupled with global vaccination programs would usher in a period of economic growth as the influence of the coronavirus pandemic waned. This Thursday the banking sector is in particular focus.

Credit Agricole stock soared 5.1% after the Paris-based bank indicated that the worst of the Covid-19 pandemic may have passed, reporting lower provisions and a larger-than-expected return to dividends.

Commerzbank stock fell 5.1% after the German lender said that its revenue will probably shrink “slightly” this year after reporting a quarterly loss of 2.7 billion euros ($3.3 billion) after writing down asset values and booking costs for future job cuts.

UniCredit  stock fell 2.3% after the Italian bank posted a larger than expected quarterly loss late Wednesday after writing down the value of its investment banking business while CEO Jean Pierre Mustier stepped down.

In other parts of the stocks, AstraZeneca  stock rose 1.8% after the U.K.-based drugmaker beat quarterly sales estimates and forecast 2021 growth even without its Covid-19 vaccine. Danone PA stock climbed 3% after investment company Artisan Partners demanded strategic changes at the French foods company.

After German car maker Volkswagen announced it was teaming up with U.S. tech giant Microsoft, its stock climbed  1%.