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European stocks grind higher with Ukraine in focus

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The German share price index DAX graph is pictured at the stock exchange in Frankfurt, Germany, February 15, 2022. REUTERS/Staff

(Reuters) – European stocks made cautious gains on Wednesday on hopes of a de-escalation of tensions between Russia and Ukraine, although accelerating inflation kept a lid on Britain’s blue-chip index.

The continent-wide STOXX 600 index rose 0.2% by 0810 GMT, adding to the 1.4% jump in the previous session when Moscow indicated it was returning some troops near Ukraine border to base in an apparent de-escalation.

However, concerns lingered as Kyiv appeared to blame Russia for a cyber attack and U.S. President Joe Biden said the country had not verified the move on troop returning.

UK’s FTSE 100 was flat after data showed consumer prices rose at the fastest annual pace in nearly 30 years in January, boosting bets that the Bank of England will raise interest rates for a third meeting in a row.

Battered travel & leisure stocks were the top gainers in Europe, up 1.1%.

Among individual stocks, tobacco group Swedish Match gained 4.4% after proposing a hike to its annual dividend, while French industrial gases company Air Liquide (PA:AIRP) climbed 2.9% as it forecast a bigger profit for 2022.

Ericsson (BS:ERICAs) tumbled 7.1% after it said an internal investigation in 2019 found serious breaches of its compliance rules in Iraq.

European stocks grind higher with Ukraine in focus

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