Share markets grapple with an onslaught of corporate news from Siemens, Commerzbank and other major European blue chips - and with the question of whether Fed chairman, Janet Yellen, is right to warn of high stock valuations. David Pollard reports.
It could almost be dubbed European super-Thursday. An onslaught of corporate headlines - keeping traders on their toes as much as Janet Yellen. German industrial orders disappointed early trading - though France posted its highest quarterly industrial production rise in four years. Alix Stewart is a Fund Manager at Schroders. SOUNDBITE: Alix Stewart, Fund Manager, Schroders, saying (English): 'If you look at other parts of the euro zone, like Italy - their retail PMI was pretty strong today, there's definitely a recovery across all parts of the euro zone.'' Even so, Germany's powerhouse energy and industrials - they're not all exactly powering ahead. Siemens fell short of expectations with its drop in profits - blaming it, in part, on a soft performance at its digital factory. E.ON is still burdened by its ailing power plant business - although shares there were bid up on weak, but still better-than-expected results. Repsol shares went sharply the other way as a massive jump in adjusted operating profit undershot expectations. But after a week of positive news from the sector, banks appear firmly back in fashion. Commerzbank following its peers in posting a strong surge in its investment division. ING gained on a 43 per cent rise in its banking numbers. SOUNDBITE: Alix Stewart, Fund Manager, Schroders, saying (English): ''Certainly the euro zone banks have been the last of the bunch globally to repair themselves post the financial crisis, but they're very much seem to be at that point now, and in fact if you look at lending intentions, they're picking up, particularly in the periphery.'' There were similar divergences for telcos. Alcatel-Lucent swung to a first quarter net loss on lower spending in the US and lower margins in China. But again, shares gained on the results - while BT's apparently failed to impress despite a three per cent rise in earnings, and record subscriptions for fibre broadband. As for U.S. Fed Chairman Yellen: she might be right, says Stewart. SOUNDBITE: Alix Stewart, Fund Manager, Schroders, saying (English): ''All financial assets have been looking quite expensive due to the QE factor, so she definitely has a point.'' And bond markets appear to be in the same frame of mind - their week-long sell off continuing unabated.