Europe midday: Stocks gain ahead of US retail sales

European stocks were trading higher by midday on Thursday as investors turned their attention to the latest US retail sales figures due later in the day.
The benchmark Stoxx Europe 600 index was up 0.7% at 467.08, Germany’s DAX was 0.5% higher at 15,691.77 and France’s CAC 40 was 1% firmer at 6,650.53.

On the macroeconomic calendar, US August retail sales are expected to show a 0.8% monthly decline.

“But soft data would hardly dampen the mood, after Tuesday’s inflation eased worries of a too tight Federal Reserve stance,” said Swissquote analyst Ipek Ozkardeskaya

In corporate news, Lagardere shares surged more than 20% after Vivendi agreed to buy activist investor Amber Capital’s 17.9% stake in the French media group, paving the way for a potential takeover.

Elsewhere, London-listed equipment hire company Ashtead rallied as it said its annual performance would beat its previous expectations and reported a 53% increase in operating profit for the first quarter.

Ryanair flew higher after the budget airline lifted its traffic growth forecast and said it expects to create 5,000 jobs. The company raised its five-year traffic growth forecast from 33% to 50%. As a result, Ryanair’s pre-Covid traffic of 149m is set to grow to over 225m guests by March 2026, from a previous target of 200m.

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