London: European equities hit two-month highs at midday on Tuesday, with banks leading after strong earnings from Goldman Sachs and miners tracking firmer metals prices.
At 4:10pm the FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares was up 1.8% at 792.12 after touching a two-month high of 795.95. It closed 2.1% higher on Thursday, before the Easter break. “People have been seeing some green shoots,” said Georgina Taylor, equity strategist at Legal & General Investment Management.
“But there’s absolutely no evidence that final demand is recovering. Equity markets are doing what they typically do, trying to pre-empt the recovery, a couple of quarters ahead.”
The index is up about 235 from the lifetime low it hit on 9 March.
European banks jumped 6.95 to a three-month high, as Goldman’s better-than-expected first-quarter profit added to confidence the sector may be through the worst, analysts said.
Goldman’s strong results on Monday came after Wells Fargo said last week that it expected to post a record $3 billion first-quarter profit.
Barclays rose 12.5%, also helped by a weekend report, saying that it would listen to offers for its asset management arm BGI after its sale of iShares on Thursday.
BNP Paribas, Banco Santander, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, HSBC, UBS and UniCredit rose between 3.7% and 15.4%.
Fortis was up 9.6% after a court ruled on Friday that all Fortis shareholders were eligible to vote on the sale of assets to France’s BNP Paribas on 28 April and 29 April, significantly increasing the chances of a ‘yes´ vote.
Miners got strength from higher metal prices, with copper rising 1.7%, and zinc touching its highest level in six months.
BHP Billiton, Anglo American, Antofagasta, Rio Tinto, Vedanta Resources and Xstrata rose between 4.2% and 13.7%.
Across Europe, the FTSE 100 index, Germany’s DAX and France’s CAC 40 were between 1.3 and 1.8% higher.