European stock markets closed higher yesterday after choppy trading, as data showing slightly improved business activity in the eurozone lifted sentiments.
London’s benchmark FTSE 100 index climbed 0.30% to end the day at 6,419.15 points.
In Paris, the CAC 40 added 1.28% to close at 4,157.68 points, while Frankfurt’s DAX index gained 1.20% to 9,047.31 points.
Across the Atlantic, US stocks took the lead from mostly solid earnings reports from Dow members including Caterpillar and 3M.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped 1.48% to 16,705.35 points.
The broad-based S&P 500 gained 1.36% to 1,953.27, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index advanced 1.69% to 4,457.05.
Industrial heavyweight Caterpillar jumped 3.9% after third-quarter net income rose 8% to $1.02bn (€806mn) as company cost-cutting measures and restructuring offset sluggish economic conditions.
3M’s profits gained 6% to $1.3bn as the industrial and consumer materials company notched earnings per share of $1.98, two cents above analyst estimates. Its shares rose 4.2%.
In foreign exchange, the euro climbed to $1.2658 from $1.2643 late in New York on Wednesday.
The European single currency gained to 78.90 British pence from 78.78 pence. The British pound dropped to $1.6045 from $1.6049 on Wednesday.
On the London Bullion Market, the price of gold slipped to $1,228.80 an ounce from $1,243.75.
In European corporate news, the chairman of Britain’s biggest retailer Tesco resigned yesterday as the troubled supermarket group said a huge accounting error began earlier than thought and contributed to plunging profits.
Tesco shares closed down 6.56% at 171pence while dragging down other supermarket groups. Morrison lost 3.04% to 153.10 pence and Sainsbury’s slid 1.82% to 237.20 pence.
Elsewhere, Unilever dropped 3.71% to €24.52 after the Dutch food and cosmetics giant posted a third quarter drop in sales blamed on a slowdown in emerging markets, particularly in China.
Orange, formerly France Telecom, climbed 4.63% to €11.42 despite a 2.3% drop in sales as its perspectives have improved as it appears the price war in the French market is nearing an end.
Shares in Safran got a 4.98% lift to €48.85, as the company posted a 7% overall gain in sales thanks in large part due to demand for new-generation fuel-efficient engines from Airbus and Boeing.
But Michelin skidded 4.91% to €67.04 after a 4.6 drop in third quarter sales despite a recovering European car market, and cut its forecast for an increase in sales volume to a gain of just 1 to 2%.