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Europe markets close higher

European markets closed slightly higher on Wednesday, with most sectors and major bourses in positive territory.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 index provisionally ended 0.2% higher, with household goods up 1.8% to lead gains.

— Sam Meredith

ECB’s Holzmann says geopolitics pose biggest risk to rate cuts

ECB’s Holzmann says biggest threat to strategy is the geopolitical situation in the Middle East

The geopolitical situation in the Middle East poses the biggest threat to the European Central Bank’s rate cut outlook, ECB policymaker Robert Holzmann told CNBC on Wednesday.

“At this stage, I think the biggest threat is geopolitics, because we have seen what’s happened in the Middle East,” Austrian central bank governor Holzmann told CNBC’s Karen Tso on Wednesday. His comments came on the sidelines of the International Monetary Fund Spring Meetings.

“As you can imagine, only when a boat is sunk in the [Strait] of Hormuz and you may have a different oil price, and this of course may require us to rethink our strategy,” he added.

His comments echo the view of ECB policymaker Olli Rehn, who on Tuesday said the biggest risks to monetary policy stem from Iran-Israel tensions and the Russia-Ukraine war.

Read the full story here.

— Sam Meredith

Iran’s navy escorting the country’s commercial ships to Red Sea

Iran’s navy commander is escorting the country’s commercial ships to the Red Sea, Commander Shahram Irani said in Google-translated comments reported by Iranian outlet Tasnim.

“We escort our ships from the Gulf of Aden to the mouth of Suez and we are ready to protect the ships of other countries as well,” he said.

The comments come after Iran over the weekend delivered its first-ever direct attack against Israel off its territories. The Jewish state and its allies intercepted the majority of the missiles and drones launched as part of the attack, with Israel now weighing retaliatory measures.

Critically, the Red Sea houses the shortest trade route between Europe and Asia-Pacific, which has been disrupted in recent months by maritime attacks perpetrated by Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthis.

Ruxandra Iordache

LVMH shares climb over 5%

Shares of luxury group LVMH continued to climb in late-morning trade, rising 5.2% by 11:40 a.m. London time.

The stock move comes even as the company posted a slowdown in sales in the first quarter. Sales growth was 3% in the first three months of this year, down from the post-pandemic induced 17% uptick recorded in the first quarter of 2023.

— Karen Gilchrist

Adidas shares rise 8% after improved outlook

Shoes are offered for sale at an Adidas store on February 10, 2023 in Chicago, Illinois. 

Scott Olson | Getty Images

Shares of Adidas rose 8% on Wednesday after the German sportswear company raised its full-year forecast and reported a year-on-year profit increase in the first quarter.

Adidas said it expects currency-neutral revenues to increase at a mid-to high-single-digit rate in full-year 2024, compared with a previous projection of growth near a mid-single-digit rate.

Operating profit for the year is now expected to reach around 700 million euros ($745 million), Adidas said in its unscheduled trading update published late on Thursday. It had previously forecast operating profit near 500 million euros.

Read more on this story here.

– April Roach

ASML shares fall 4.5% after sales miss expectations

President Joe Biden’s administration plans to press the Netherlands next week to stop its top chipmaking equipment maker ASML from servicing some tools in China, two people familiar with the matter said, as the U.S. leans on allies in its bid to hobble Beijing’s tech sector.

Emmanuel Dunand | AFP | Getty Images

Shares of ASML fell as much as 4.5% in early deals Wednesday after the company missed sales forecasts but stuck to its full-year outlook.

The chipmaker reported net sales of 5.29 billion euros ($5.62 billion) versus 5.39 billion euros expected by analysts. Net profit was 1.22 billion euros versus the 1.07 billion euros expected.

Net sales fell 21.6% year-on-year while net income dropped 37.4%.

— Karen Gilchrist

LVMH shares up 2.5%

Shares of luxury group LVMH rose 2.5% in morning trade, even as the luxury goods group posted a slowdown in sales.

Sales grew 3% in the first quarter, the company said Tuesday, slipping from 17% growth in the same period of 2023, as higher prices weighed on consumers who aspire to its Louis Vuitton and Dior brands.

— Karen Gilchrist

Europe stocks open higher

European stocks opened higher Wednesday, with the benchmark Stoxx 600 index up 0.12% by 8:05 a.m. London time.

France’s CAC 40 was 0.5% higher and Germany’s DAX was up 0.1%, while the U.K.’s FTSE 100 was flat.

— Karen Gilchrist

UK inflation eases less than expected to 3.2%

City of London skyline view looking over the River Thames and Waterloo Bridge at sunset on 10th February 2024 in London, United Kingdom.

Mike Kemp | In Pictures | Getty Images

U.K. inflation eased to 3.2% in March, new data from the Office for National Statistics showed Wednesday.

The read was slightly higher than the forecast of economists polled by of 3.1%, but was down from 3.4% in February. Core inflation, excluding energy, food, alcohol and tobacco, came in at 4.2%, compared with a forecast of 4.1%.

Investors are closely watching the latest data for a signal on when the Bank of England may cut interest rates.

— Karen Gilchrist

CNBC Pro: ‘Hard to Ignore’: Jefferies says this cybersecurity stock could double — even after jumping 75% in the past year

Investment bank Jefferies is forecasting a nearly 100% increase in the share price of a cybersecurity company from current levels.

The stock appears to have momentum as shares have risen by 75% over the past year and more than doubled since hitting an all-time low in early 2023.

CNBC Pro subscribers can read more here.

— Ganesh Rao

CNBC Pro: Morgan Stanley has named its top global dividend stocks for this quarter

Investing in an increasingly volatile market — amid geopolitical risks, rising bond yields and macroeconomic uncertainty — is no mean feat.

The unpredictability has led some analysts to reiterate their recommendation to buy dividend stocks.

“”The market has been pricing out Fed rate cut expectations from March onward. ‘No landing’ and ‘sticky inflation’ narratives are on the rise again. These translate into a higher UST bond yields and particularly favoring dividend stocks to outperform.”,” Morgan Stanley’s analysts said in a recent note, naming their “high conviction” stocks for this quarter.

CNBC Pro subscribers can read more here.

— Amala Balakrishner

European markets: Here are the opening calls

European markets are set to open higher Wednesday.

The U.K.’s FTSE 100 index is expected to open 39 points higher at 7,848, Germany’s DAX up 47 points at 17,789, France’s CAC 52 points higher at 7,972 and Italy’s FTSE MIB up 93 points at 32,806, according to data from IG.

Earnings will come from ASML and Asos. Data releases include U.K. inflation data for March.

— Holly Ellyatt

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