EUROPE MARKETS: European Stocks Edge Slightly Higher, As Oil Shares Charge Up

By Carla Mozee, MarketWatch Features Dow Jones Newswires

European stocks edged up Tuesday, with oil and gas shares rising as oil prices marched higher on a key pipeline outage.

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Meanwhile, traders focused on merger-and-acquisition deals and corporate updates as they waited for central bank policy decisions later in the week.

How markets are moving: The Stoxx Europe 600 index was up 0.2% to 389.75, but briefly dipped into the red. Oil and gas and tech stocks were the top gainers, while consumer services and financial shares struggled the most. On Monday, the pan-European benchmark fell by less than 0.1% (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/european-stocks-edge-lower-as-techs-fall-but-uk-blue-chips-rise-2017-12-11), pulling back from a one-month high.

(http://www.marketwatch.com/story/european-stocks-on-course-for-2nd-losing-session-with-tech-knocked-down-2017-12-06)In country-specific gauges, Germany's DAX 30 index rose 0.1% to 13,141.55, and France's CAC 40 picked up 0.1% to 5,393.19. Spain's IBEX 35 was 0.1% lower at 10,299.80.

The U.K.'s FTSE 100 was up 0.1% to 7,460.23 after official figures showed the U.K. inflation rate at its highest level (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/uk-inflation-hits-almost-6-year-high-2017-12-12) in almost six years.

The euro traded at $1.1784, up from $1.1771 late Monday in New York.

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What's moving markets: The Stoxx Europe 600 Oil & Gas Index was kicked up 1% as crude and Brent futures extended the gains they logged on Monday after news that a major North Sea oil pipeline, The Forties, will be shut down for weeks to repair a leak.

While the outage is a significant supply disruption -- the pipeline carries supplies from more than 80 major fields -- it has a wider impact in that the Forties's flows feed into a key price benchmark for global oil.

On Tuesday, February Brent crude jumped more than 1% (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/brent-oil-rises-to-fresh-212-year-high-as-north-sea-pipeline-outage-reverberates-2017-12-12) to trade around its highest level since mid-2015. Later, a weekly update on U.S. oil stockpiles will be released by the American Petroleum Institute after the close of European trade.

Oil producer moves: Among oil industry stocks, Tullow Oil PLC (TLW.LN) rose 2.7%, France's Total (TOT) added on 1.3%, and Statoil ASA (STL.OS) claimed a 2.1% rise. Subsea 7 SA (SUBC.OS) shares rose 0.8%.

M&A in focus: Meanwhile, investors had potential takeover news to assess. Shares of smart-card maker Gemalto (GTO.AE) soared 33% as the company reviews an unsolicited takeover bid (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/gemalto-to-review-51-bln-takeover-bid-by-atos-2017-12-12) of EUR4.3 billion euro ($5.1 billion) by French information technology company Atos SE. Atos (ATO.FR) shares were up 5%.

But a takeover agreement for Australian mall operator Westfield Corp. (WFGPY) weighed on shares of Unibail-Rodamco (UL.AE) which fell 2.5%. The European property company said it has reached a deal to buy Westfield, valuing it at 20.8 billion Australian dollars (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/westfield-in-157-bln-takeover-by-unibail-rodamco-2017-12-12)(US$15.7 billion). Trading in Australian-listed shares of Westfield were halted before the market opened on Tuesday, pending news of the deal.

Stock movers:(ATO.FR)Steinhoff Holdings NV shares rallied 36%, with the company behind Mattress Firm and Poundland said it's enlisted more outside advisers to aid in its accounting crisis.

Bankia SA shares (BKIA.MC) were off 1% following a report that the Spanish government (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/spain-to-sell-7-stake-in-bankia-efe-2017-12-12) plans to sell its 7% stake in the lender.

Economic data: The ZEW think tank's economic conditions index rose to 89.3 in December, from 88.8 in November, indicating a more upbeat view of the situation in Germany. Economic expectations came in at 17.4, down from 18.7 in November.

U.K. inflation in November was at its highest (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/uk-inflation-hits-almost-6-year-high-2017-12-12) since March 2012, hitting 3.1%, according to official figures. That was above expectations of 3% and more than a full percentage point above the Bank of England's target.

The U.K. central bank will release its next policy decision on Thursday, but no changes are expected. The European Central Bank will put out its own monetary policy update the same day, while the U.S. Federal Reserve is expected to hike interest rates by a quarter percentage point at the conclusion of its meeting on Wednesday.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

December 12, 2017 05:51 ET (10:51 GMT)