European shares edged higher on Wednesday as Britain was set to formally trigger divorce proceedings with the European Union it joined in 1973. The pan-European STOXX 600 index was 0.2 percent higher by 0820 GMT, with modest gains driven by broker upgrades and results. Markets were muted as investors awaited details on the two parties’ negotiating positions ahead of long and complex talks.
Britain’s FTSE 100 rose 0.4 percent, outperforming the broader European market, as a weaker pound contributed to gains for its largely foreign-earning stocks. The more domestically-exposed British mid caps fell 0.1 percent. Basic resource stocks were among top sectoral gainers, up 0.6 percent as the price of copper rose, with autos also rising 1.1 percent.
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3I Group was the top European gainer, up 3.2 percent after Morgan Stanley raised its rating on the private equity group to ‘overweight’ from ‘equal-weight’. Norsk Hydro was up 2.7 percent after rating agency Moody’s upgraded its baseline credit assessment of the aluminium producer to Baa2 from Baa3. Engie rose 2.6 percent, top of France’s CAC 40 , after JP Morgan upgraded its view on the gas and electricity supplier to overweight from neutral.
German internet services company Scout24 was the worst-performing European stock after posting results, set for its worst day in 3 1/2 months, after its results Swedish bank SEB was down 5.1 percent after going ex-dividend. (Reporting by Helen Reid, editing by Kit Rees)