April 23, 2020 / 7:15 AM / a month ago

European shares gain ahead of business activity data

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April 23 (Reuters) - European stock markets inched higher on Thursday following a bunch of better-than-expected quarterly earnings reports, even as investors braced for worsening business activity data with the coronavirus outbreak battering the global economy.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index was up 0.3% at 0705 GMT, recovering for a second straight day after a historic collapse in oil prices sparked a selloff at the start of the week.

Kicking off the first-quarter earnings season for the big European lenders, Credit Suisse Group AG posted a 75% jump in profit, but cautioned the pandemic could impact performance in coming quarters. Its shares rose 2.5%.

The STOXX 600 has bounced this month after hitting eight-year lows in March as unprecedented global stimulus and signs of easing in the coronavirus outbreak brought back bargain hunters.

However, analysts have warned against a quick recovery as the damage from a near shutdown in economic activity piles up. Surveys on Europe’s manufacturing and services sector due later in the day are expected to mirror dismal readings from Asia.

SKF, the world’s biggest maker of ball bearings, jumped 7.5% to the top of the STOXX 600 after reporting better-than-expected first-quarter operating earnings. (Reporting by Sagarika Jaisinghani in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)

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