European stocks closed higher Wednesday as investors tracked the latest U.S. inflation data. The pan-European Stoxx 600 closed 0.7% higher, with basic materials leading the gains with a 3.2% gain, while health care stocks slipped 0.7%. Dutch healthcare technology giant Philips plunged nearly 15.5% after issuing a fourth-quarter profit warning following parts shortages, increased provisions for equipment recalls and higher delivery costs.
U.S. stocks edged higher Wednesday after a key inflation report showed a historic increase but was largely in line with expectations. Consumer prices rose 7% year over year. That’s the biggest increase since 1982, but was in line with economists’ expectations from Dow Jones. The monthly increase was slightly stronger than expected. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell told Senate lawmakers Tuesday that he expects interest rates to rise this year, as well as the end of the monthly bond-buying program in March and a reduction in asset values.
Markets in the Asia-Pacific region were mixed today, while Wall Street posted gains despite a red-hot inflation report that pushed up market expectations for rate hikes. Meanwhile, covid worries also came into focus as the World Health Organization warned that the number of Omicron cases is “spiraling out of control.” Shares of Chinese real estate developer Sunac plunged more than 15% after the company said in a report that it plans to sell 452 million new shares to major shareholder Sunac International Investment Holdings.
The company said 50% of the sale proceeds will be used to repay loans, while the other half will be used for other corporate purposes.
Ventilator recall and profit warning hit Philips doubly hard
Shares of Philips (PHG.AS) plunged 15% Wednesday, their biggest one-day loss in more than 20 years, after the Dutch healthcare technology group warned that supply chain problems would hurt profits and that a recall of ventilators would have to be expanded. Philips had recalled up to 4 million of its ventilators last year over concerns that a foam used in the devices could degrade and become toxic.
The company has now increased that estimate by 1 million and raised its provision for the recall by 45% to 725 million euros. In addition to the expanded recall, Philips also lowered its estimate for fourth-quarter adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITA) by nearly 40% to about 650 million euros ($739 million) as the company continues to struggle to find memory French fries and other parts.
Tesla co-founder says electric car sales will soon take off
Tesla co-founder JB Straubel, founder and CEO of battery recycling company Redwood Materials, has good news and bad news for those who believe electric vehicle sales are about to take off.
Straubel says demand is increasing, but the auto industry is not moving fast enough to keep up with production. “That surprises people a little bit,” Straubel said in an interview with CNBC on TechCheck. “It’s a really strong shift. From a decline in internal combustion engine sales to an almost 100% increase in electric vehicle sales in different regions.” Straubel says industry estimates that electric cars will account for 12.7% of total U.S. car sales by 2025 may be too low.