European markets edge higher, brushing off coronavirus concerns

European markets traded cautiously higher on Wednesday as investors in the region look to brush off concerns about the spread of the China coronavirus.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 climbed 0.3% in early trade, with banks adding 0.8% to lead gains as most sectors and major bourses entered positive territory.

A stabilization in European markets sentiment follows a rebound in U.S. stocks on Tuesday, after the market’s biggest sell-off in more than three months. But in Asia, shares in Hong Kong plummeted Wednesday as markets returned from the Lunar New Year holiday amid coronavirus fears.

Chinese health officials say the death toll has risen to 132 with the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in China now standing at 5,974, topping the number of SARS cases previously. Between Nov. 1, 2002, and July 31, 2003, China had 5,327 SARS cases, according to the World Health Organization.

Chinese President Xi Jinping called on the country to strengthen its resolve on Tuesday, saying “I believe that as long as we strengthen our confidence, help each other, adopt scientific prevention and containment measures, and persist in precise policies, we will definitely win the battle against the outbreak.”

Earnings come from Santander, Novartis and SEB on Wednesday and, on the data front, France and Italy release consumer confidence figures for January.

Stocks on the move

Temenos shares jumped out to 3.7% gains after the Swiss software provider announced a global strategic partnership with Google Cloud.

Santander shares climbed 3.6% after the Spanish bank beat fourth-quarter profit expectations.

Dutch telecoms company KPN dropped 6% in early trade after reporting a fourth-quarter rise in net profit and forecasting a “stable” 2020, while the Paris-listed shares of mobile operator SES slid 5.6%.

LVMH shares edged 0.4% higher after the French luxury goods giant posted weaker sales growth in the fourth quarter and said it sees softer demand in Hong Kong amid anti-government protests.

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