European equity benchmarks were modestly higher on Wednesday morning as fresh data showed that Spain's annual rate of industrial production surged to its highest level in more than a year in September, oil prices edged lower and merger news helped lift London's benchmark FTSE 100 Index.
The annual rate of industrial production in Spain, the Eurozone's fourth largest economy, rose to 3.4% in September, the highest level since August 2016, according to fresh data published by INE, Spain's national statistics agency. The month-on-month comparison was less rosy with industrial production rising by just 0.1% in September, when compared to August, down from a monthly rate of 0.9% in August.
Oil prices were in the red for a second day despite forecasts from the American Petroleum Institute (API) projecting a 1.56 million barrel drop in US inventories last week. On Monday, the price of Brent crude, the international gauge, touched a two-year high after the Crown Prince of Saudia Arabia, which is home to some of the world's largest oil reserves, began a clampdown on corruption on the weekend. West Texas Intermediate crude oil futures, the main US benchmark, were 0.3% lower at $57.05 per barrel while Brent crude futures were little changed at $63.68 per barrel at the time of writing.
In equities, energy supplier SSE was leading gainers on London's FTSE 100 Index, up by 3.2% after reports that it would merge its British domestic business with Npower. Imperial Brands, a consumer goods company, was 2.3% higher and packaging and paper company Mondi was up by 1.8%. UK house builder Persimmon was 3.3% lower despite posting a 10% increase in forward sales reserved beyond 2017 in a trading update for the third quarter.
On Frankfurt's DAX, HeidelbergCement was leading the gainers, up by 5.1%, followed by ProSiebenSat1 Media, 1.3% higher and Beiersdorf, a skin care company, up by 1.2%. And, on Paris' CAC-40, Sodexo was 1.0% higher, luxury goods retailer Hermes was up by 0.8% after posting double-digit sales growth in its third quarter which was boosted by favorable sales momentum in mainland China. Wines and spirits producer Pernod Ricard was up by 0.1%.
The pan-European Stoxx 600 Index was 0.03% higher, London's FTSE 100 Index was up by 0.22%, Frankfurt's DAX was 0.21% higher and Paris' CAC-40 was up by 0.16% at the time of writing.
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