European stocks traded sharply higher on Wednesday, tracking gains in the U.S. and Asia, buoyed by higher oil prices and better-than-expected China export data.
The pan-European STOXX 600 was 1.5 percent higher.
In Asia trading, markets rallied, with Australia shares extending gains after the trade data from its major trading partner indicated commodity prices and demand may be stabilizing.
Miners, oil majors higher
A particular boost for markets came from data released by China’s General Administration of Customs that showed the country’s dollar-denominated exports for March increased 11.5 percent on-year, compared with a Reuters poll forecasting a 2.5 percent increase.
The dollar-denominated imports for the same month fell 13.8 percent on-year, wider than the 10.2 percent drop forecast in a poll reported by Reuters.
Spot metal prices got a boost from the news which, in turn, helped European listed basic resource stocks. Shares in Glencore and Rio Tintorallied, while Arcelormittal’s stock got a boost from a rating and target price upgrade from Credit Suisse.
Oil markets remain in focus for investors ahead of a closely-watched meeting on April 17 between OPEC and non-OPEC producers which is aimed at freezing current output levels. Oil prices advanced more than 4 percent on Tuesday following a report that major producers Russia and Saudi Arabia had agreed to freeze output ahead of the producers meeting on Sunday.
But on Wednesday, Saudi Arabian oil minister Ali al-Naimi appeared to rule out a crude output cut in comments to al-Hayat newspaper, sending oil prices lower.
Italian banks rally
The Italian banks were trading sharply higher on Wednesday. Earlier this week, leading financial institutions in the country agreed to set up a 6 billion euro ($6.8 billion) state-backed fund to help tackle bad bank loans on Monday evening.
And on Wednesday, Italian economy minister Pier Carlo Padoan, told newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore, that there is no risk that European authorities such as the European Central Bank or European Commission, will block plans for the bank fund.
Elsewhere in the banking sector, a senior official at top Credit Suisseshareholder Harris Associates said the Swiss lender took the right steps by shrinking the investment bank and pivoting to wealth management. Shares were over 2 percent higher.
On the earnings front, Tesco reported a 0.9 percent rise in U.K. like-for-like sales in the 13 weeks to February 27, its first quarter of underlying U.K. sales growth for over three years. And the British supermarket giant also said that operating profit before one-off items for the year came in at £944 million ($1.3 billion).
Meanwhile, Inditex, the Spanish owner of Zara, was trading lower after Barclays cut its price target for the stock.
– Saheli Roy Choudhury contributed to this report.