July 15, 2019 / 8:08 AM / 5 months ago

Europe closes higher as upbeat China data boosts German shares

(Reuters) - European stocks ended higher on Monday as trade-sensitive German equities took heart from surprisingly strong Chinese data after worries about domestic growth led to a shaky start.

FILE PHOTO: The German share price index DAX graph is pictured at the stock exchange in Frankfurt, Germany, July12, 2019. REUTERS/Staff/File Photo

Frankfurt-listed shares .GDAXI had briefly dipped into the red in early trade after Germany's economy ministry pointed to weakness in the manufacturing and services sectors, suggesting a subdued second quarter for Europe's largest economy.

The DAX index ended 0.52% higher, however, with investors counting on the European Central Bank to signal further easing of monetary policy at a meeting next week given slowing growth.

“The markets rebounded as investors realized this affirms a growing conviction the ECB is getting ready to tee-up looser monetary policy,” Stephen Innes, managing partner at Vanguard Markets Pte, wrote in a note.

The pan-European STOXX 600 rose about 0.4% in a choppy trading session, with sectors exposed to trade headlines including automakers .SXAP, chemicals .SX4P and basic resources .SXPP companies topping gains.

Buoying risk sentiment was data from China that showed factory output and retail sales topped forecasts in June. Although economic growth slowed to 6.2% in the second quarter, its weakest pace in at least 27 years, it was in line with analysts’ expectation.

“The June data... is an imminent upturn, markets seem to be growing a bit more confident that the stimulus we’ve seen from Chinese authorities over the past six to nine months is actually working its way through the system,” said Florian Hense, European economist at Berenberg in London.

Regional chipmakers gained after a senior U.S. official said the United States may approve licenses for companies to re-start new sales to blacklisted Chinese telecoms equipment maker Huawei in as little as two weeks.

Infineon (IFXGn.DE), ASM (ASMI.AS) and STMicroelectronics (STM.MI) rose between 0.6% and 3.7%.

Shares of Belgian-Dutch biotech firm Galapagos NV (GLPG.AS) jumped 19% to a record high after U.S. drugmaker Gilead Sciences Inc (GILD.O) said it would invest $5.1 billion in the company.

Banking stocks .SX7P ended flat, drawing little cheer from U.S. lender Citigroup Inc’s (C.N) better-than-expected results, as Italian banks .FTIT8300 dragged.

Investors will turn to earnings from heavyweights in Europe, with technology major SAP (SAPG.DE), semiconductor player ASML (ASML.AS) and drugmaker Novartis (NOVN.S) among those due to report second-quarter results this week.

Companies listed on the pan-European STOXX 600 index are expected to report 0.8% earnings growth in the second quarter, down sharply from an estimate of 1.8% a week ago, according to data from I/B/E/S Refinitiv.

Falling the most of the STOXX 600 was shares of British software company Micro Focus (MCRO.L), which fell 5.7% on news its executive chairman sold 11.6 million pounds of the company’s shares.

Meanwhile, Anheuser-Busch InBev (ABI.BR) dropped after it pulled the planned listing of its Asia Pacific unit in Hong Kong, Budweiser Brewing Company APAC Ltd (1876.HK), in what would have been the world’s biggest initial public offering of 2019.

Additional reporting by Susan Mathew, Amy Caren Daniel and Agamoni Ghosh in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur and Catherine Evans

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