EUROPE MARKETS: European Stocks Log Gains On Wave Of Upbeat Earnings, GDP Growth

By Carla Mozee, MarketWatch Features Dow Jones Newswires

Euro holds loses grip of $1.18

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Stocks in Europe gained ground Tuesday, as trading in August kicked off with shares of BP PLC climbing after the oil major's earnings report, and as data showed rising economic growth in the eurozone.

The Stoxx Europe 600 tacked on 0.6% to close at 380.26. Energy and industrial stocks led advancers, and the health care sector was the only laggard. The pan-European index on Monday slipped 0.1% (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/european-stocks-gain-as-miners-strengthen-inflation-data-on-tap-2017-07-31) to close at its lowest since April.

Energy boost: The oil and gas sector leapt a collective 1% as BP shares (BP.LN)(BP.LN) posted a 2.4% rise. The oil producer swung to a profit of $553 million in the second quarter (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/bp-swings-to-profit-on-higher-crude-prices-2017-08-01), demonstrating its ability to generate cash again. Oil and gas production at the energy major rose 9.9%.

Oil stocks remained higher as crude oil prices turned lower. Prices had earlier extended a rally (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/oil-hovers-above-52-a-barrel-as-investors-grow-confident-of-tightening-market-2017-08-01) driven by growing optimism that the oversupply in the global oil market is now easing. Oil investors were also monitoring Venezuela, a member of OPEC, after President Nicolás Maduro in a weekend referendum was given overwhelming power to redraft the country's constitution. The U.S. on Monday imposed sanctions against Maduro, but didn't include threatened measures against the country's petroleum industry.

GDP in focus: The first reading of second-quarter gross domestic product in the eurozone came in at 0.6% growth quarter-over-quarter and at 2.1% year-over-year. Those figures matched expectations in FactSet survey of economists and compare with a reading of 0.5% growth in the first quarter.

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While no breakdown for eurozone GDP has been released yet, domestic demand continues to be an important driver of growth, said Bert Colijn, senior economist at ING.

"Especially, the recovery in investments has been strong over recent quarters and has likely continued to boost GDP growth in the second quarter," Colijn said in a note. "On the back of an accelerating jobs recovery and the highest consumer confidence since 2001, consumption is likely to have contributed significantly to growth as well."

"The recent appreciation of the euro is therefore unlikely to slow the current expansion significantly for the moment, given the domestic strength of the economy," he said.

The euro edged back to $1.1796 after the data, losing its grip on the $1.18 level it crossed above late Monday for the first time since January 2015. It traded at $1.1843 Monday in New York.

A stronger euro can make products from European exporters expensive for their overseas clients to purchase. Each 10% on the euro takes 6 percentage points off per-share earnings growth, Credit Suisse said in a research note last week.

Stock movers: Rolls-Royce Holdings PLC (RR.LN) (RR.LN) zoomed up 10% as the aircraft engine maker swung to a first-half net profit of GBP1.6 billion (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/rolls-royce-swings-to-profit-amid-turnaround-push-2017-08-01)($2.1 billion) amid signs of improvement from its turnaround plan.

Royal DSM NV (DSM.AE) shares bulked up 5.6%. The Dutch chemicals and pharmaceuticals company said it's on track to surpass its targets for the year (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/royal-dsm-profit-up-21-lifts-2017-targets-2017-08-01) as it reported a 21% rise in second-quarter net profit.

Fresnillo PLC (FRES.LN) fell 2.6% even as the precious metals miner said first-half pretax profit rose 52% to $387.4 million (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/fresnillo-pretax-profit-up-52-on-mine-boost-2017-08-01).

Direct Line Insurance Group PLC (DLG.LN) shares leapt 5.5% after the motor insurance provider sharply raised its interim dividend (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/direct-line-profit-climbs-hikes-interim-dividend-2017-08-01), and said first-half net profit rose to GBP275.5 million ($363.7 million).

Shares of AA PLC (AA.LN) plunged 14% after the roadside assistance company said it has removed executive chairman Bob Mackenzie (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/aa-plunges-12-in-london-after-chairman-removed-for-gross-misconduct-2017-08-01) with immediate effect for "gross misconduct".

Individual indexes: France's CAC 40 index rose 0.7% to 5,127.03, and Germany's DAX 30 ended up 1.1% at 12,251.29.

The U.K.'s FTSE 100 surged 0.7% to 7,423.66 (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/ftse-100-marches-higher-as-bp-rolls-royce-shares-advance-2017-08-01), and Spain's IBEX 35 gained 0.8% to 10,586.70.

Read:July's best-performing assets--in charts (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/julys-best-performing-assetsin-charts-2017-07-31)

(http://www.marketwatch.com/story/julys-best-performing-assetsin-charts-2017-07-31)Also:The S&P 500 and DAX are parting ways and that could set stocks up for a tumble (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/the-sp-500-and-dax-are-parting-ways-and-that-could-be-bad-for-wall-street-2017-07-31)

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

August 01, 2017 12:25 ET (16:25 GMT)