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European Stocks Edge Higher; Corporate News Helps Ahead of ECB

European stock markets edged higher Thursday, bouncing off Wednesday’s sharp losses, helped by some positive corporate news and ahead of the latest European Central Bank meeting.

At 3:35 AM ET (0835 GMT), the DAX in Germany traded 0.4% higher, the CAC 40 in France rose 0.1%, while the U.K.’s FTSE index climbed 0.1%.

The announcement of additional measures to try and combat the new surge in Covid-19 cases, with France closing all non-essential businesses and Germany shutting its hospitality industry for a month, hit European stock markets hard Wednesday, with the DAX, for example, closing 4.2% lower.

But positive corporate updates have helped to steady the ship on Thursday. 

Royal Dutch Shell (LON:RDSa) stock rose 3.3% after the oil major reported a larger-than-expected profit for the third quarter and raised its dividend, just six months after slashing it for the first time since the Second World War.

Lloyds (LON:LLOY) stock rose 2% after the U.K. bank blew expectations away with its third quarter profit, after receiving its biggest quarterly increase in mortgage applications since 2008. 

Volkswagen (DE:VOWG_p) stock rose 1.9% after the German car manufacturer returned to profit in the third quarter, helped by surging Chinese demand for luxury cars, while Anheuser Busch Inbev (BR:ABI) gained 2.7% as the world’s largest brewer reported impressive earnings on the back of strong demand in the U.S. and Brazil.

It wasn’t all good news though, as Nokia (NYSE:NOK) stock fell over 12% after the Finnish telecom network equipment maker reported disappointing third-quarter underlying profits in its first earnings report under new Chief Executive Pekka Lundmark.

Later in the session, investors will look to the European Central Bank for guidance after its governing council meeting. 

“The ECB is moving closer towards more action, but it is too early to do so this month. While we look for a dovish bias and hints at more asset purchases (to come in December) this should not catch markets off guard,” said analysts at ING, in a research note.

Also of interest later in the session will be a reading of how the U.S. economy, the world’s largest, performed in the third quarter, as well as earnings from tech giants Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOGL), Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN), Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), and Facebook (NASDAQ:FB).

Oil prices retreated Thursday, as traders returned to fretting about the outlook for global demand in the wake of the new Covid-driven restrictions in Europe after Hurricane Zeta hit the coast of Louisiana and weakened.

Additionally, U.S. Energy Information Administration data Wednesday showed U.S. crude stockpiles rose by 4.3 million barrels last week, adding to worries about a potential supply glut.

U.S. crude futures traded 0.8% lower at $37.10 a barrel, while the international benchmark Brent contract was down 0.7% at $39.36. Both contracts fell around 5% on Wednesday.

Elsewhere, gold futures were flat at $1,879.20/oz, while EUR/USD traded 0.1% lower at 1.1733.