The broad-based major European indices closed higher in Wednesday’s trading session, as commodity-related stocks and utilities bolstered the markets.
In economic news, U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May triggered article 50 of the Treaty on European Union, officially initiating the country’s withdrawal from the European Union.
“We are leaving the European Union, but we are not leaving Europe,” wrote May in a letter to European Council President Donald Tusk, to kick off Brexit negotiations with Europe. “And we want to remain committed partners and allies to our friends across the continent.”
The European Commission has blocked the proposed merger between Deutsche Borse and the London Stock Exchange Group, saying the union would have created “a de facto monopoly in the markets for clearing fixed-income instruments.”
The proposed merger would have combined the activities of the two largest European stock exchange operators, which own the bourses of Germany, Italy and the U.K. as well as several of the largest European clearing houses.
“The European economy depends on well-functioning financial markets,” said Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, who heads the competition policy. “That is not just important for banks and other financial institutions. The whole economy benefits when businesses can raise money on competitive financial markets.
Meanwhile Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union, reported that the U.S. and China continue to be the two main trading partners of the E.U. The U.S. represented EUR610 billion ($656 million), or 17.7% of total E.U. trade in goods, while China represented EUR515 billion, or 14.9%. This was well ahead of Switzerland (EUR264 billion, or 7.6%), Russia (EUR191 billion, or 5.5%), Turkey (EUR145 billion, or 4.2%) and Japan (EUR125 billion, or 3.6%).
In Germany, the Federal Statistical Office (Destatis) reported that the index of import prices increased 7.4% in February, compared with the same month last year. It was the highest increase of a yearly rate of change since April 2011, when it rose 7.6%. In January, and in December 2016, the annual rates of change were 6% and 3.5%, respectively. From January to February, the index increased 0.7%.
The index of import prices, excluding crude oil and mineral oil products, increased 4.5% compared with a year earlier, while the index of export prices rose 2.5% in February, compared with February of 2016. In January, and in December 2016, the annual rates of change were 1.8% and 1.1%, respectively. From January to February, the export price index rose 0.2%.
And in France, the monthly consumer confidence survey for March showed that French households’ opinion on their future financial situation has worsened slightly, according to the National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies (INSEE).
The corresponding balance lost two points, and now stands below its long-term average. The households’ opinion on their past financial situation is stable at its long-term average. In March, the share of households saying it is a suitable time to make major purchases has fallen sharply, dropping six points after gaining four points in February. However, the corresponding balance remains far above its long-term average.
In equities, investment company 3i Group led the FTSE higher in London, surging 5.7%, followed by the London Stock Exchange, which climbed 2.7%. Mining companies Bhp Billiton and Antofagasta rose 2.7% and 2.2% respectively, while equipment rental company, Ashtead Group and British American Tobacco gained 2.1% and 1.9% each.
In Frankfurt, Deutsche Boerse led the DAX into positive territory, rising 1.7%, followed by gas and electricity provider RWE and Deutsche Bank, which gained 1.6% and 1.3% respectively. Construction materials supplier HeidelbergCement and automaker Daimler gained 1.2% and 1% each, while real estate company Vonovia, and health care company Fresenius SE, each closed 0.9% higher.
And in Paris, oil and gas services firm TechnipFMC led the CAC higher, rising 4.6%, followed by gas and electricity provider Engie, and media group Vivendi, which climbed 3% and 1.5% respectively. Chemical company Solvay, auto parts supplier Valeo, and energy management firm Schneider Electric were i[ 1.5%, 1.4%, and 1.3% respectively.
The FTSE gained 0.41%, the DAX rose 0.44%, and the CAC-40 was up 0.45%.
European Equity Benchmarks Close Higher; UK Triggers Brexit – Nasdaq