European stocks struggle on mega earnings day as Siemens, AstraZeneca, SocGen and Unilever report

European stocks struggled to hold onto positive territory on Thursday amid mixed results from a host of blue-chip companies, with disappointing results from Credit Suisse and a warning of inflationary pressures from Unliever.

First gains for the Stoxx Europe 600 SXXP,
+ 0.11%
eroded as it traded flat at 473, putting into play a second day of gains. EURUSD euro,
+0.07%
was stable and GBPUSD,
+0.27%
was slightly higher. Investors on both sides of the Atlantic will be watching US inflation data closely, due later.

Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal predicted that inflation in consumer prices in January increase by 7.2% per year, after a peak of nearly 40 years of 7% in December. Futures ES00 actions
-0.02%

YM00,
+0.20%
were mixed, with Nasdaq-100 NQ00 futures,
-0.11%
lower than these data.

Bond yields have been broadly in place RATCHET to expectations of central bank policy tightening, although the fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic continues to linger. After a recent respite, the yield of the 10-year German bund TMBMKDE-10Y,
0.220%
was up 3 basis points on Thursday at 0.246%.

Read: Will searing inflation data kill the stock market rebound? What investors want to see

Earnings drove the stock in Europe. Near the top of the list of winners, Siemens’ SIE,
+5.78%
Stock soared more than 5%, after the German engineering and technology conglomerate said it beat forecast revenue and orders, which jumped 42% on a like-for-like basis.

Several major banks have reported, including Société Générale GLE,
+3.26%,
which reported a rise in net profit than analysts’ expectations and set a policy for distribution to shareholders equivalent to 2.75 euros ($ 3.14) per share. These shares have jumped more than 4%.

Credit Suisse shares CS,
+0.81%

CSGN,
-5.77%,
meanwhile, fell 4%, after the Swiss bank reported a bigger-than-expected fourth-quarter loss due to lower revenue. The bank has warned that 2022 will be a year of transition as its balance sheet and reputation have taken a beating, with 2021 marked by massive losses due to the twin collapses of Greensill Capital and Archegos Capital Management.

Shares of consumer goods giant Unilever UL,
-0.31%

ULVR,
-1.24%
fell more than 2%. The company reported higher net profit in 2021, above market expectations, and said it plans to launch a share buyback program worth up to $3.43 billion. But he warned of rising costs due to inflationary pressures, in the first half of 2022, which could total more than 2 billion euros ($2.2 billion).

“This could moderate in the second half to around 1.5 billion euros, although there is currently a wide range for this which reflects market uncertainty over the outlook for raw material, freight and shipping costs. ‘packaging,’ the company said.

Thyssenkrupp shares TKA,
-0.37%
fell nearly 3% as the German industry group said first-quarter sales and profits beat expectations, although it said continued supply shortages and a slowdown in the auto industry had harmed growth.

The company said break-even cash generation was a key target for 2022, but said negative free cash flow before mergers and acquisitions of 858 million euros was below consensus expectations.

Another big name was AstraZeneca AZN,
+0.97%

AZN,
+2.97%,
which recorded higher income, but recorded a loss in the fourth quarter due to charges related to its acquisition of Alexion Pharmaceuticals. The Anglo-Swiss drugmaker expects to incur a restructuring charge of post-acquisition of 2.1 billion.

ArcelorMittal MT shares,
+2.02%

TM,
-1.04%
fell more than 2% after Europe’s biggest steelmaker reported higher sales and adjusted earnings in the fourth quarter, helped by higher steel prices. But profits fell short of expectations.

Garland K. Long