June 27, 2018 / 4:23 PM / 3 months ago

Fresh optimism on trade lifts European shares

LONDON (Reuters) - Relief that the trading dispute between China and the United States was on course to de-escalate pushed European shares higher on Wednesday after a start in negative territory.

FILE PHOTO: The German share price index, DAX board, is seen at the stock exchange in Frankfurt, Germany, March 20, 2018. REUTERS/Staff/Remote

Fears over higher global barriers to trade had initially sent European stocks to 11-week lows but the Trump’s administration decision to use an existing, but strengthened, security review for investments in technologies, rather than China specific restrictions, fueled optimism.

The pan-European STOXX 600 closed 0.7 percent higher as Wall Street opened higher, also boosted by the news.

“Firmly strapped into the trade war rollercoaster, the markets saw a chunky upswing on Wednesday afternoon as Trump appeared to pull back from the brink”, said Connor Campbell, a financial analyst for Spreadex.

Energy stocks .SXEP added the most points to the index as crude prices climbed on supply disruption in Canada and after U.S. officials told importers to stop buying Iranian crude from November.

BP (BP.L), Total (TOTF.PA) and Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.L) rose 3.3 percent, 2 percent and 2.6 percent respectively.

Industrials Airbus (AIR.PA) and Siemens (SIEGn.DE) which had been big drags on the index as investors priced in a more difficult trade environment for big exporters, rebounded with rises of 2.7 percent and 1.9 percent.

Autos stocks .SXAP also made a come-back in the black, up 0.2 percent and drove Germany’s DAX up 0.9 percent.

Imerys (IMTP.PA) shares rose 4 percent after analysts at Exane BNP Paribas upgraded the mineral extracting and processing company to “outperform” from “neutral”.

Shares in French oil storage and distribution company Rubis (RUBF.PA) fell 5.1 percent after Berenberg cut the stock to “hold” from “buy, saying weakness in the oil storage business is likely to persist in the short- to medium-term.

Despite the change of mood on Wednesday, investors have overall been pulling billions out of European stocks and shifting into U.S. stocks in recent weeks as trade tensions ratcheted up.

A global investor confidence index by State Street dropped in June, with the decline in sentiment largely driven by a significant fall in European investors’ confidence.

“Right now the environment is more positive for U.S. stocks but that could change fairly quickly,” said Invesco’s Hooper, adding: “One of the key themes this year is rotation of leadership.”

Analysts have been upgrading their earnings expectations for European stocks in the past weeks despite building trade tensions.

Reporting by Helen Reid; Editing by Keith Weir

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