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Stocks - Europe Up; FTSE Underperforms as Pearson Weighs

By Peter Nurse

Investing.com - European stock markets traded up after the open Thursday, taking their lead from the positive close on Wall Street overnight after the signing of the trade deal between the U.S. and China.

At 04:15 ET (0910 GMT), the DAX traded 43 points, or 0.3% higher. France's CAC 40 was up 18 points, or 0.3%. The pan-eurozone index, the Euro Stoxx 50 rose 10 points, or 0.3%., while the FTSE 100 in the U.K. underperformed, dropping 4 points, or 0.1%, weighed by disappointing corporate news.

Shares in Pearson (LON:PSON) slumped 10% as the publisher announced the departure of its chief financial officer and a weak performance in its U.S. education division. It also said it expects profits to fall next year.

Shares in Whitbread (LON:WTB) also dropped 3.7% after the owner of the Premier Inn hotel chain reported weak revenue in its fiscal third quarter, blaming Brexit-related uncertainty. Recruitment specialist Hays also fell 2.8% after its fiscal second quarter was hit by French strikes, U.K. elections and Australian bushfires.

In Europe, shares in utility RWE AG (DE:RWEG_p) climbed 1.7% following reports Thursday that the German government plans to compensate the utility with around 2.6 billion euros for costs related to the country’s planned coal exit.

On Wednesday, the U.S.S&P 500 had risen 0.2%, and the tech heavy Nasdaq Composite added 0.1% and the Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped 0.3%, closing in record territory above 29,000. That accompanied the signing of the much-anticipated phase one trade agreement between the U.S. and China, pausing their two-year trade war that had weighed on global growth.

Looking ahead, the European Central Bank is due to publish the account of its last monetary policy meeting, held in December, at 7:30 AM ET (12:30 GMT). At the meeting, the first presided over by new President Christine Lagarde, the Governing Council decided to leave its key rates and quantitative easing program unchanged.

Elsewhere, oil climbed, boosted by the signing of the trade deal as well as U.S. crude inventories falling by more than expected. These inventories fell by 2.5 million barrels, compared with analyst expectations of a drop of 500,000 barrels, according to data from the Energy Information Administration, an agency of the U.S. Department of Energy.

At 4:10 AM ET (09:10 GMT), U.S. crude futures traded 0.8% higher at $58.31 and the international benchmark Brent contract rose 1.1% to $64.70. Gold futures for February delivery on New York’s COMEX rose 0.1% to $1,555.25.

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