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EUROPE MARKETS: Retailers Send European Stocks Higher After Strong Next Update

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01/03/2018 | 04:13pm CET

By Sara Sjolin, MarketWatch

Traders take cue from record-setting U.S. trading session

European stocks moved broadly higher on Wednesday, with retailers among biggest gainers in the region after an upbeat trading update from U.K. fashion and home chain Next PLC.

Chip makers were also scoring solid advances, taking a cue from their U.S. counterparts that rallied both Tuesday and Wednesday.

What are markets doing: The Stoxx Europe 600 index climbed 0.3% to 389.43, rebounding from a 0.2% decline on Tuesday.

Germany's DAX 30 index rose 0.5% to 12,938.30, while France's CAC 40 put on 0.6% to 5,318.13.

The U.K.'s FTSE 100 index added 0.2% to 7,663.89, erasing an earlier loss as the pound declined after some disappointing U.K. construction data. Sterling bought $1.3545, down from $1.3545 late Tuesday in New York when it traded around the highest level since late September.

The euro slipped to $1.2025 from $1.2061 on Tuesday, when it reached its highest level since January 2015.

What's driving the market: Technology stocks helped lift European markets, after chip makers boosted U.S. stocks to record highs on Tuesday and also continued higher on Wednesday. The Stoxx Europe 600 Technology Index was up 1.6% on Wednesday, on track for its biggest one day gain since Dec. 12, according to FactSet.

Retailers were also trading on the front foot after Next PLC (>> Next) rallied 6.8%, following an upbeat trading update on the pre-Christmas period . The U.K. retailer lifted its guidance for the fiscal year ending in January 2018, saying it now expects to report pretax profit of GBP725 million ($983 million) compared with its previous outlook of GBP717 million. The Stoxx Europe 600 retail index was up 0.7%.

Banks were down slightly as investors digested the new EU trading rules (https://www.fnlondon.com/articles/a-guide-to-the-biggest-trading-changes-as-mifid-ii-goes-live-20180103) that came into effect on Wednesday. The Markets in Financial Instruments Directive--or Mifid II--is seen as representing the biggest changes to securities trading in Europe in the past decade and includes a new way of charging for investment research and caps on dark pools among other things. The Stoxx Europe 600 banks index fell 0.2%.

Stock movers: Shares of semiconductor companies Siltronic AG (>> Siltronic AG) and AMS AG (>> ams) posted some of the strongest gains in Europe, rising 5% and 5.4%, respectively.

Among retailers, Primark-parent Associated British Foods PLC (>> Associated British Foods) (>> Associated British Foods) gained 1.9% and Burberry Group PLC (>> Burberry Group)(>> Burberry Group) climbed 1.1%. Embattled retailer Steinhoff International Holdings NV soared 30%, partly rebounding from its 93% 2017 loss that came amid an accounting scandal.

Altice NV (>> Altice) jumped 6.8% after the Dutch telecoms company said its Altice-SFR unit has signed a broadcast distribution deal with M6 Group .

Shares in Deutsche Bank (>> Deutsche Bank) fell 0.5%. German publication Handelsblatt said in a post to Twitter (https://twitter.com/HandelsblattGE/status/948496381420949504) that more than 30 investors have sued the bank for 740 million euros, claiming they were paid too little for their Postbank shares in 2010.

Outside the main European benchmark, Carillion PLC (>> Carillion) lost 5.7% after the construction company said it is being investigated by the U.K.'s Financial Conduct Authority in connection with the "timeliness and content of announcements" made by Carillion between December 2016 and July 2017.

Economic news: The number of unemployed people in Germany fell by 29,000 to 2.44 million in December, beating forecasts of a 12,000 drop. The seasonally adjusted jobless rate was 5.5%, unchanged from November.

In the U.K., the construction purchasing managers index fell to 52.2 in December from 53.1 in November, missing analyst forecasts.

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