Europe Markets: European stocks see muted trade a day after S&P 500 nabs a new high

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The Maersk Eindhoven container ship, operated by Maersk Line Ltd., sits moored next to gantry cranes at a shipping terminal in Yokohama, Japan, on Sunday, July 19, 2020.

Toru Hanai/Bloomberg News

European stocks inched higher on Wednesday after the S&P 500 logged its first all-time high since February amid signs of more U.S.-China tensions.

The Stoxx Europe 600 index SXXP, +0.34% rose 0.2% to 367.73, after closing down 0.6% on Tuesday. The German DAX DAX, +0.37% and the French CAC 40 PX1, +0.30% rose 0.1% each and the FTSE 100 UKX, +0.13% was flat.

On Tuesday, the S&P 500 SPX, +0.23% finished at a record 3,389.78, topping February highs for the first time since the pandemic roiled markets. That marks the fastest recovery from a bear market on record. The Nasdaq Composite COMP, +0.72% logged its 34% record finish for the year.

But stock futures indicated a muted start ahead, with S&P 500 ES00, +0.17%, Dow Jones Industrial Average YM00, +0.18% and Nasdaq-100 futures NQ00, +0.15% up just 0.1% each early Wednesday.

Getting in the way of more gains for global markets — Asia also had a muted session — were comments by President Donald Trump, who told reporters in Yuma, Arizona, that he postponed talks with China because he doesn’t “want to deal with them right now.

“What China did to the world was not even thinkable. They could have stopped (the virus),” he said, according to Reuters. The comment raises questions about whether trade talks can get back on track as relations between the two countries continues to splinter.

In Europe, data showed U.K. inflation unexpectedly leaped to the highest level since March. The pound GBPUSD, -0.01% briefly turned positive for the year, last up 0.1% to $1.3256.

Among stocks on the move, shares of A.P. Moeller-Maersk MAERSK.B, +5.09% rose 5% as it reinstated full-year guidance after a slump in demand from the pandemic. The shipper posted better-than-expected second-quarter earnings that were lifted by higher freight rates, lower fuel prices and cost cuts.

Headed the other way, shares of biotech Galapagos GLPG, -26.96% led Stoxx 600 decliners with a 24% plunge after the Dutch company said that the investigational arthritis treatment it is developing with Gilead Sciences GILD, -0.13% won’t be approved in its current form.

Shares of Roche Holding ROG, +0.88% climbed 0.8% after the Swiss drugmaker said it had agreed to help manufacture and distribute a promising investigational drug for Covid-19 being developed by Regeneron Pharmaceuticals REGN, -0.34%.