Chloe Taylor,Ryan Browne
European Markets: FTSE, GDAXI, FCHI, IBEX
Market players are taking a cautious approach as worries of a slowdown in economic growth linger. U.S. bond markets have in recent days signaled a U.S. recession may be coming, with the U.S. 10-year Treasury yield falling below that of the 3-month bill for the first time since 2007 last week.
Commerzbank surged toward the top of the index during afternoon deals, after the German lender’s annual earnings report showed net profit increased to 865 million euros from 128 million a year earlier. The report also revealed that the bank’s CEO took a 32 percent pay cut last year, in direct contrast with potential partner Deutsche Bank, which increased its top executives’ pay in 2018. Shares of Commerzbank were more than 5 percent higher on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Norsk Hydro shares also saw gains after the firm said it had agreed with Brazil’s federal prosecutor to an assessment that could help it resume full production at its half-shut Alunorte refinery. Shares of the aluminum and renewable energy firm gained 3 percent.
Fiat Chrysler rose 2.5 percent after a Financial Times report said the Italian-American automaker could be the subject of a takeover bid from Renault after separate merger talks with Nissan.
Swedbank tumbled to the bottom of the index after Swedish authorities searched the bank’s head office as part of an investigation into money laundering. SVT, a Swedish broadcaster, also reported Thursday that Swedbank was facing a separate investigation by the New York Department of Financial Services for misleading investigators looking into a global money laundering scandal. Shares of Swedbank lost more than 11 percent on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, European Central Bank President Mario Draghi delivered a speech on the health of the European economy and monetary policy. The central banker, who is nearing the end of his leadership, said that a temporary slowdown in growth does not necessarily mean a recession is coming.
British lawmakers are due to hold a round of so-called indicative votes — essentially votes on what the course of Brexit should look like — later in the day. This comes after parliamentarians took control of the Brexit process from May’s government.
In dealmaking news, German pharmaceutical company Merck KGaA made a hostile $5.9 billion takeover bid for chemicals firm Versum Materials Tuesday, bypassing management and offering to buy out shares directly from investors.