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Wall Street helps drive Milan market higher, banking sector strong

by Cheo Condina

Shares in Milan closed higher on Thursday with the FTSE Mib index rising 0.94% to 18,947 points at the end of an entire session in positive territory. Gains were limited in early trade by uncertainties that weighed on all European markets around the outcome of the upcoming elections in France and Germany and the potential effects for the euro in the case of victory for Eurosceptic forces.

Milan saw firmer gains in the afternoon, supported by new records touched by indices on Wall Street (the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq), which were celebrating President Donald Trump’s announcement on new expansionary fiscal measures. On a day that saw the release of a flurry of company results, some sectors shone more than others. That was the case for the oil sector, which was supported by data showing an unexpected draw in US gasoline inventories and pointing to higher US demand. Saipem ended the session up 3.1%, ENI rose by 1.5% and Tenaris was up 1.6%.

Among banking shares, the performance of UBI Banca stood out, which closed the session up 3.6% the day after it released its 2016 results, and BPER also gained (+1.6%). Mediobanca also had a positive day, increasing by 1.6% to €7.88 after positive first half figures released before the start of trading (net profit was up 30% to €418 million, earnings rose 6% to a historic high of €1.07 billion).

Among other stocks, defense and aerospace firm Leonardo rose 0.59% to €11.99, despite negative news from the US and Taiwan. After its Raytheon partner withdrew from the consortium, Leonardo will participate alone in the competition for the US Air Force’s T-X trainer contract (which initially includes 350 aircraft worth $16 billion). Its US subsidiary DRS will serve as prime contractor and will offer the M-346, renamed T-100. According to a Milanese broker “it is highly improbable that Leonardo/DRS could win this competition.”

Lockheed Martin and the South Korean Kai and Boeing with Saab remain in the running. The contract should be awarded by the end of the year. Another negative piece of news for Leonardo came from Taiwan, which officialized the launch of a program for the construction of a fleet of 66 of the jet trainer aircraft XT-5, confirming reports in recent months, linked to the cancellation of a MoU for Leonardo to supply 66 M-346s.

Among minor stocks, pharmaceutical group Recordati gained 4% after the release of its 2016 results which showed revenues up 10.1% to €1.15 billion. Luxury stocks did not have such a brilliant day, closing little changed after a session marked by weakness. Ferragamo ended steady while Moncler closed down 0.11%.