February 20, 2019 / 8:40 AM / 3 months ago

Sainsbury's, Swedbank sink while trade talk progress boosts European shares

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LONDON, Feb 20 (Reuters) - Encouraging signs from trade talks between the world’s two biggest economies helped boost European shares on Wednesday while the threat of a blocked merger deal sank Sainsbury’s shares.

Germany’s trade-sensitive DAX led the way with a 0.6 percent gain and the pan-European STOXX 600 rose 0.4 percent.

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Tuesday that trade talks with China were going well and suggested he was open to pushing off the deadline to complete negotiations, saying March 1 was not a “magical” date.

The autos sector, which has been very vulnerable to rising protectionism, jumped 1.7 percent and miners gained 1.1 percent.

The top gainers — Glanbia, Simcorp, and Fresenius — were boosted by well received results.

Fresenius shares jumped 5.9 percent after the German healthcare firm said it expects earnings to grow faster than sales from 2020 after investments dent profit this year.

The company’s separately-listed dialysis business Fresenius Medical Care gained 6.8 percent after announcing a 1 billion euro share buyback.

Irish nutrition company Glanbia jumped 9.5 percent after its fourth-quarter results, while Danish software company Simcorp also rose 7.4 percent after reporting.

British supermarket chain Sainsbury’s and Swedish lender Swedbank marred the positive picture overall.

Sainsbury’s shares sank 12.5 percent after Britain’s competition regulator said its merger with Asda should either be blocked or require significant concessions.

Swedbank shares fell 5.6 percent after a Swedish television programme said it had uncovered documents linking the lender to a money laundering scandal involving Denmark’s Danske Bank. (Reporting by Helen Reid Editing by Keith Weir)

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