Energy, tech stocks keep European shares afloat amid recession worries

European shares ended higher on Thursday as oil and tech stocks rose, although gains were capped by mounting concerns over a possible recession induced by an energy crisis.

The pan-European STOXX 600 rose 0.3%. Energy shares jumped 1.2% to near 12-week highs as crude prices climbed on mounting supply concerns.

Russia will halt natural gas supplies to Europe via Nord Stream 1 for three days from Aug. 31, piling pressure on the region as it seeks to refuel ahead of winter.

“Our year-end target for the STOXX 600 is 410, but the downside risks are growing with higher natural gas prices and increased probability that Europe will fall into a recession,” said Sutanya Chedda, an equity strategist at UBS.

A Reuters poll is indicating that the STOXX 600 may fall to 425 points by year-end.

Technology stocks rose 1.0%, taking cues from their peers across the Atlantic as megacap growth stocks boosted Wall Street, with focus squarely on Federal Reserve’s annual Jackson Hole symposium.

“Stocks are ticking higher after a largely indecisive day that has seen European indices tread water while U.S. tech giants provide a positive influence on the other side of the pond,” said Joshua Mahony, senior market analyst at online trading platform IG.

“Ultimately, markets await the views of one man, with Jerome Powell due to appear in Wyoming tomorrow to bring clarity over how he sees the Fed policy reacting to the economic crisis.”

Germany’s DAX rose 0.4% as data showed its economy expanded by 0.1% in the second quarter, beating expectations. A separate survey showed the economy was set to shrink in the third quarter, while business morale fell in August.

The benchmark STOXX index has lost about 11% this year as markets assess the impact of rapidly rising interest rates and raging inflation on consumer spending and company earnings amid the energy crisis.

Minutes from the European Central Bank’s meeting last month showed policymakers appeared increasingly concerned that high inflation was getting entrenched at a time the bloc risks a recession.

Money markets are now pricing in 100 bps of ECB rate hikes by October. A 50 bps hike is fully priced in for September, plus a small probability of a 75 bps move.

Among individual stocks, Norwegian Air Shuttle fell 7.4% following downbeat second-quarter numbers, while Finnish utility Fortum shed 1.7% after posting a net loss of 7.4 billion euros ($7.4 billion).

Shares in Swiss group Novartis, which plans to spin off its generics unit, Sandoz, ended 0.8% lower.

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