Stocks – Europe Edges Higher; Apple Earnings Eyed

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By Peter Nurse – European stock markets edged higher Tuesday, rebounding a touch from Monday’s sharp losses. However, the tone remains one of caution as the deadly coronavirus in China continues to claim victims.

At 03:45 ET (08:45 GMT), the U.K.’s index was trading 24 points, or 0.3%, higher, France’s was up 24 points, or 0.4%, while the gained 28 points, or 0.2%. The pan-Europe rose 30 points, 0.8%.

The death toll from the new strain of coronavirus in China climbed to 106 overnight, with Beijing suffering its first victim, while the number of total confirmed cases in China surged to 4,515, the country’s National Health Commission said. All but six of those to die were in Wuhan, the city where the disease was first noticed. Elsewhere, Japan confirmed a case of the disease in a person who had not traveled to China, illustrating the risks of transmission among people.

The Chinese government has sealed off entire cities, isolating some 50 million people in the region around Wuhan, in the hope this will curb the spread of the disease. Long-distance buses and some public transport networks have also been shut down. Hong Kong said Tuesday it would suspend all ferry and high-speed rail connections with China.

Looking at corporate news in Europe, shares in Swedbank AB (OTC:) climbed over 4% after the Swedish bank reported a smaller than expected fall in fourth-quarter profit during what the company’s CEO called a “turbulent year.”

Airbus (PA:) shares climbed 2.3% after the European airplane manufacturer reached an agreement with authorities in a number of countries to settle bribery allegations that have dogged the company for years.

SAP shares (DE:) fell 1.8% despite the software company lifting guidance and stating net profit and revenue for the fourth quarter of 2019 increased on the year.

And Koninklijke Philips (AS:) stock fell 1.4% after the Dutch conglomerate said it will review options for its domestic appliance business. The Dutch company suffered a 17% drop in annual profit in the fourth quarter and wants to concentrate on its higher-margin medical technology unit.

Still, most eyes will be on Wall Street as Apple (NASDAQ:) reports earnings after the bell, with many eager to see whether its latest slate of phones has revived sales. Additionally, three more components will issue results ahead of trading, namely Pfizer (NYSE:), 3M (NYSE:) and United Technologies (NYSE:). Starbucks (NASDAQ:) will join Apple in reporting after the close.

The U.K.’s , at 06:00 AM ET (1100 GMT) could be of some interest ahead of the Bank of England’s rate-setting meeting on Thursday.

U.S. data will also be studied carefully at the start of the ’s two-day meeting. are due at 8:30 AM ET (1330 GMT), and are expected to have risen 0.3% last month, while at 10:00 AM ET, the January consumer confidence index is expected to come in at 128 from 126.5 in December.

Elsewhere, oil has traded in a calmer fashion, after Monday’s sharp losses.

At 3:45 AM ET (0845 GMT), futures traded 0.3% lower at $52.95 and the international benchmark contract fell 0.6% to $58.26. for February delivery on New York’s COMEX were 0.1% higher at $1,578.55.

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