European stocks close at new highs on earnings lift
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* Share repurchase plans lift oil majors
* Credit Suisse drops on profit slump
* Euro zone sentiment hits record high in July
By Sruthi Shankar and Shreyashi Sanyal
July 29 (Reuters) - European stocks hit all-time highs on Thursday after strong earnings from commodity majors, Airbus and a clutch of other companies, while data showing record high euro zone economic sentiment in July added to the positive mood.
The pan-European STOXX 600 index .STOXX rose 0.5% to a closing high of 460.57 points.
UK-listed Royal Dutch Shell RDSa.L gained 3.8% and France's TotalEnergies TTEF.PA added 2.2% after both companies announced share buybacks as a surge in oil and gas prices boosted their earnings.
Miners .SXPP , already the best sectoral performers in 2021, jumped 2.4% after Anglo American AAL.L boosted its shareholder payout to a record $4.1 billion. Rising silver and gold prices also boosted the sector.
Airbus AIR.PA edged 0.6% higher after the world's largest planemaker sharply raised its forecasts for full-year deliveries and earnings.
Strong quarterly earnings and optimism around European reopening put the STOXX 600 on course for its sixth straight month of gains despite lingering concerns about inflation and China's regulatory crackdown.
"Globally diversified stocks have recorded the strongest EPS beats, while consumer stocks with high emerging market exposure have recorded the weakest," said Milla Savova, investment strategist at BofA, said in a note.
Savova, however, noted that mentions of inflation by STOXX 600 companies have risen by more than 400% over the past year, leaving them at an all-time high in absolute terms.
Investors drew comfort from a supportive stance by central banks after Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell on Wednesday said the U.S. job market still had "some ground to cover" before it was time to start withdrawing economic support.
Estimates from the European Commission showed sentiment in the 19-country single-currency bloc rose to 119.0 points in July, a record since data began to be collected in 1985.
"Never before has sentiment been so positive among eurozone businesses and consumers. This indicates that the economic rebound is in full swing," said Bert Colijn, senior economist, eurozone at ING.
Finnish telecom equipment maker Nokia NOKIA.HE climbed 4.6% after it raised its full-year outlook as it benefits from a sharp turnaround in its business.
Europe's largest carmaker Volkswagen VOWG_p.DE hit a record high earlier as it lifted its profit margin target for the second time in less than three months.
Close to 41% of the STOXX 600 companies have reported so far, and 67% of them have topped analysts' profit estimates, as per Refinitiv IBES data. Typically, 51% beat earnings forecast.
Among decliners, Swiss bank Credit Suisse CSGN.S dropped 2.0% after reporting a near 80% fall in its second-quarter profit, hit by the fallout from the collapse of Archegos.
Food giant Nestle NESN.S and brewer Anheuser-Busch InBev ABI.BR fell after their results.
Reporting by Sruthi Shankar and Shreyashi Sanyal in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu, Sriraj Kalluvila and Sonya Hepinstall
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