(Alliance News) - On Thursday, major European stock markets close in positive territory but without momentum, with the exception of the London Stock Exchange, the day after Rishi Sunak's announcement of elections earlier than expected and now scheduled for July 4, while the six-week election campaign is already underway.

Thus, the FTSE Mib closes on the parity threshold at 34,467.67, the Mid-Cap gives up 0.1 percent to 47,669.54, the Small-Cap leaves 0.3 percent to 29,008.12 on the parterre, and Italy Growth closes up 0.3 percent to 8,237.72.

In Europe, London's FTSE 100 ends in the red by 0.4 percent, Frankfurt's DAX 40 is in fractional green, and Paris' CAC 40 picks up 0.1 percent.

In macroeconomic news, consumer confidence in the Eurozone rose 0.4 points in May from the previous month to minus 14.3, almost in line with expectations of minus 14.2, according to a preliminary estimate from the European Commission released Thursday.

Sentiment has improved since February, standing at the highest since February 2022, partly due to expectations of short-term rate cuts by the ECB.

On the Mib, at the top is Prysmian, up 3.3 percent. Also doing well is FinecoBank, up 1.7%, and Moncler, up 0.9%.

Eni rises 0.3% after announcing Thursday that the first tranche of a new share buyback program will be launched within days.

In detail, the first tranche will cover a maximum of 6.4 million shares and for a maximum outlay of EUR150 million.

The plan had been announced along with the quarterly report and will total EUR1.6 billion and can be increased, based on possible upside, up to EUR3.5 billion.

Saipem - in the red by 0.8 percent - on Wednesday evening reported that its subsidiary Saipem Finance International had successfully completed the placement of a new fixed-rate non-convertible and unsubordinated bond for a total amount of EUR500 million maturing in May 2030.

The bonds pay an annual coupon of 4.875 percent and have a 100 percent re-offer price. The issue date is scheduled for May 30, 2024.

Among the bearish performers is the energy segment, with Snam doing worst of all and giving up 2.8 percent, preceded by Italgas, Terna, Hera, and A2A, all down between 2.2 percent and 1.3 percent.

On the cadet segment, Maire Tecnimont rises 2.8 percent after it announced Thursday that a consortium comprising subsidiary Tecnimont - Integrated E&C Solutions and Baker Hughes has been awarded an engineering, procurement and construction contract by Sonatrach for the construction of three compressor stations, as well as the upgrading of the gas gathering system, in the Hassi R'mel gas field, 550 kilometers south of Algiers.

The total value of the contract is approximately USD2.3 billion, of which Tecnimont is responsible for USD1.7 billion.

Webuild -- in the red by 9.9 percent -- announced Thursday that its subsidiary CSC Costruzioni has been awarded a contract worth a total of more than EUR302 million for the new industrial railway plant in Ticino, with a 67 percent share of about EUR202 million.

The work, commissioned by Swiss Federal Railways to the Officine Ticinesi OFT Consortium led by CSC Costruzioni, will carry out preparatory work, such as site installation and excavation, and later the construction of the main building, adjoining technical buildings, and work on the exterior spaces.

The work, scheduled to begin in early July 2024, will be completed at the end of 2027, when the new Railway Industrial Plant will go into operation.

The board of directors of MFE-MediaForEurope -- A shares in the red by 0.1 percent and B shares in the green by 0.2 percent -- on Thursday said it had approved periodic financial information for the first quarter of 2024. Consolidated net income is positive EUR16.8 million compared to EUR10.1 million in the same period last year.

Consolidated net revenues are EUR699.8 million compared to EUR646.6 million in the first quarter of 2023, a growth of 8.2 percent.

"Following the positive results in the first months of the year, MFE confirms all the 'guidance' on the year-end targets previously given," the company note reads.

Sesa - in the green by 1.3 percent - announced Wednesday that it has signed through its subsidiary Base Digitale Group, active in the business services sector, a binding agreement to acquire 75 percent of the capital of ATS Advanced Technology Solutions Spa, "thus strengthening its expertise in the development of digital platforms and IT consulting for the financial services segment," the company's statement said.

Among smallcaps, KME Group gives up 0.1 percent after it announced Wednesday that its board of directors has appointed Diva Moriani as chairman of the board and Vincenzo Manes as vice chairman.

Banca Sistema - in the red by 0.8 percent - announced Monday that it had approved its three-year strategic plan through 2026. Targets include a CAGR 23-26 net interest and other banking income up 12.9 percent. As for cost/income ratios, the estimate is for 61 percent in 2023 to rise to 57 percent in 2026.

Net income CAGR 23-26 is estimated to rise 27%, with Rote at 15% in 2026 and cumulative dividends 2024-2026 of EUR18 million.

On capital buffers, a CET1 ratio and total capital ratio range between 14.8% and 15.8% and between 18.0% and 19.0% respectively is forecast.

Among SMEs, Equita SIM announced Thursday that it had finalized the acquisition of the minority stake in Equita K Finance and changed its name to Equita Mid Cap Advisory.

The SIM has thus risen to 100 percent of Equita Mid Cap Advisory and will exercise its proxy to increase the latter's capital, reserving all 991,734 Equita Group shares, down 0.8 percent, to the sellers of the remaining 30 percent stake in Equita Mid Cap Advisory.

This brings Equita Group's capital to EUR11.9 million, divided into 52.4 million shares, including 2.7 million treasury shares.

Bertolotti -- not affected by trading -- reported that it ended 2023 with a 37 percent year-on-year increase in value of production, to EUR38.3 million from EUR27.9 million in the previous year.

Of the value of production, 72 percent was attributable to the Industries business line; 27 percent to the Railway business line; and the remaining 1 percent to Automation and Robotics, which is newly established and from which the company expects a significant prospective contribution both in terms of technological innovation and as a market development for horizontal lines.

Revenues rose to EUR29.5 million from EUR27.1 million, registering annual growth of 9 percent. Backlog as of December 31, 2023 stands at EUR67.3 million and up sharply from the December 31, 2022 figure.

Talea Group rises 7.4 percent after reporting Thursday that its Farmaè retail brand ranked fourth among generalist e-commerce sites in Italy, behind giants such as Esselunga, Unieuro and La Feltrinelli, and first in the Health and Wellness sector, as well as 13th among the top e-commerce sites worldwide.

In New York, the Dow is in the red by 0.8 percent, the Nasdaq is up 0.7 percent, and the S&P 500 gains 0.1 percent.

Among currencies, the euro changes hands at USD1.0826 from USD1.0776 on Wednesday in closing European equities while the pound is worth USD1.2713 from USD1.2514 last night.

Among commodities, Brent crude is trading at USD81.78 per barrel from USD84.33 per barrel on Wednesday. Gold, on the other hand, trades at USD2,344.25 an ounce from USD2,312.69 an ounce on Wednesday night.

Friday's macroeconomic calendar opens at 0130 CEST with Japan's inflation and continues in the UK at 0800 CEST with retail sales data, while GDP data is released at the same time in Germany.

Half an hour later, Switzerland publishes employment levels while at 0845 CEST in France the French economic state survey is released.

At 1200 CEST, the Eurogroup meeting is scheduled.

In the afternoon, overseas, there is durable goods data from the US.

Among the companies listed in Piazza Affari, the results of IIG, Landi Renzo and Mevim are expected.

By Claudia Cavaliere, Alliance News reporter

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