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European Stocks Higher; Lagardere Soars After Vivendi Buys Stake

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By Peter Nurse

Investing.com - European stock markets traded higher Thursday, boosted by solid corporate earnings and consolidation in the media sector despite a weak handover from Asia.

At 3:45 AM ET (0845 GMT), the DAX in Germany traded 0.7% higher, the CAC 40 in France rose 0.7% and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 climbed 0.4%.

Equities in Europe bucked a weak handover from Asia, helped by strong gains in Lagardere (PA:LAGA) after fellow French media giant Vivendi (OTC:VIVHY) announced plans to buy a further stake in the owner of Paris Match, paving the way for a full takeover. Lagardere stock soared over 20%, while Vivendi stock dropped 0.8%.

There was also support from decent earnings numbers.

Wickes (LON:WIX) stock rose 3% after the U.K.-based DIY chain raised its annual profit forecast after reporting a better-than-expected jump in its first-half profit, while Thales (PA:TCFP) stock climbed 1.2% with the French defense company keeping its 2021 financial goals despite a unit losing a major Australian contract. It had lost over 10% in the last two months as rumors that it may lose the contract had started to circulate.

Ryanair (LON:RYA) stock rose 3.3% after the discount airline raised its long-term traffic forecast, expecting a strong recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic. Airline stocks in general were lifted by news that the U.K. is set to loosen Covid-19 testing requirements for vaccinated travelers. EasyJet (LON:EZJ) stock rose 3.9%, while IAG (LON:ICAG) stock and Wizz Air (LON:WIZZ) stock both rose 3.4%

Earlier Thursday, Asian stocks largely sold off, with the Hong Kong benchmark index, the Hang Seng, falling nearly 2% as casino shares extended the previous day’s rout on the back of the Chinese government tightening its grip on Macau, the world’s biggest gambling hub.

Additionally, troubled Chinese real estate giant Evergrande (HK:3333) stock slumped around 10% after its main unit applied to suspend trading of its onshore corporate bonds, raising fresh worries of default risks.

Back in Europe, the region’s new car registrations dropped in July and August after four months of growth, by 23.6% and 18.1% year-on-year respectively, but most attention Thursday will be on the release of U.S. August retail sales and weekly initial jobless claims for clues of the health of the important U.S. economy.

Crude prices edged higher Thursday, adding to the previous session’s strong gains on the back of a sharp drawdown in crude stocks in the United States, the largest oil consumer in the world.

Crude inventories fell by 6.4 million barrels last week, according to the Energy Information Administration late Wednesday, as refiners in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico struggled to recover from the damage caused by Hurricane Ida.

By 3:45 AM ET, U.S. crude futures traded 0.1% higher at $72.66 a barrel, while the Brent contract rose 0.1% to $57.54. Both contracts gained around 3% on Wednesday, and are up nearly 50% year-to-date.

Additionally, gold futures fell 0.4% to $1,787.35/oz, while EUR/USD traded 0.3% lower at 1.1782.

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