Market Commentary: IMF revises growth forecast for Germany, euro area remains unchanged

Markets are trading flat this morning as China cut reserve requirements for some banks, accelerated infrastructure spending and loosened property curbs as Premier Li Keqiang seeks to keep growth from falling below his 7.5% target.
 
The Euro Stoxx 50 is up 2.3% year-to-date. So far 25% of the companies in the index which report quarterly results did so. 60% of the companies which announced results issued positive earnings results. Positive earnings surprises came mainly from the oil and gas, technology and industrials sectors, whereas negative earnings surprises came from basic materials and utilities sector.

Germany continues to be the major driver of growth. The International Monetary Fund has revised up its 2014 growth forecast for Germany while leaving it unchanged for the euro area. The IMF expects the EU’s largest economy to grow by 1.9% and 1.1% for the euro area.

The S&P 500 is up 7% year-to-date. So far 46% of the companies in the index which reported quarterly results did so. 80% of the companies which announced results issued positive earnings results.  Positive results came from all sectors. The only sector which is lagging the others is the telecommunications sector.

Companies continue to report earnings this morning. Ryanair Holdings Plc lifted its fiscal full-year profit goal as Europe’s biggest discount carrier rolls out more routes and reduces unit costs, while cautioning that there’s little visibility on second-half sales. Profit after tax for the year through March 2015 should be in the range of 620 million euros to 650 million euros, compared with the 580 million euros to 620 million euros previously forecast.

Ryanair is seeking a return to annual profit growth after the first decline in five years in fiscal 2014 as it refines a no-frills approach to draw business passengers, older travellers and families. Profit for the first quarter ended June 30 more than doubled as Easter fell in the period, though a surge in additional seating could weigh on second-half fares.

Reckitt Benckiser Group Plc said it will spin off its pharmaceutical unit, culminating a strategic review that began in October for a business that once accounted for a fifth of earnings yet wasn’t central to Chief Executive Officer Rakesh Kapoor’s long-term plans. The spinoff will occur in the next 12 months and will be a UK-listed company. The company also today reported second-quarter sales growth of 4%, excluding the pharmaceutical business, in line with analysts’ estimates.

Danone, the French consumer products maker, is in talks with Hospira Inc. as a potential buyer for a medical nutrition unit. The companies continue to negotiate a deal for the unit which was for sale in May and valued at more than 3 billion euros. Paris-based Danone had also talked to Vevey, Switzerland-based Nestle SA and Bad Homburg, Germany-based Fresenius SE.

Swiss pharmaceutical group Novartis said the European Commission has approved its eyecare unit Alcon's Simbrinza treatment for glaucoma, a chronic, sight-threatening eye disease. Alcon said in a statement on Monday the Simbrinza eye drops suspension had been approved to decrease elevated intraocular pressure in adult patients with open-angle glaucoma or ocular hypertension.

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