European stocks inch higher as positive earnings counter oil, Wirecard slump


European shares hovered near two-week highs on Tuesday as a slate of strong earnings reports from companies, including Novartis and UBS, outweighed a slump in oil prices and shares of Wirecard.

The pan-European STOXX 600 was up 0.1% by 0722 GMT, after closing at its highest level since mid-April on Monday as many countries planned to ease coronavirus-induced lockdown measures.

Europe’s oil & gas sector .SXEP shed 0.6% as oil prices CLc1 LCOc1 sank on concerns about dwindling crude storage capacity worldwide. [O/R]

London-based BP (BP.L) slipped 1.8% as it forecast significantly lower refining margins in the second quarter and its first-quarter profits tumbled by two-thirds as the health crisis hammered oil demand.

The biggest drag, however, was German financial services company Wirecard (WDIG.DE), which plunged 21.3% after it published results of an investigation by auditor KPMG.

Offering some respite to Europe’s battered banking sector .SX7P, UBS (UBSG.S) gained 4.3% after reporting a 40% rise in January-March profit.

Novartis (NOVN.S) rose 1% after it confirmed its 2020 targets as the pandemic prompted patients to stock up on their prescriptions in advance.