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European stocks edge up as BP, China stimulus offset rate jitters

(Reuters) -European stocks edged higher on Tuesday as bumper earnings from BP (NYSE:BP) helped offset losses in UBS and Nordic Semiconductor (OL:NOD), while investors took comfort from fresh stimulus for China's battered financial markets.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index added 0.2%, following a 1.3% jump in Asian stocks after China's state fund stepped up efforts to stabilise the declining market.

London-listed oil giant BP climbed 5.6% after reporting fourth-quarter earnings of $3 billion, exceeding forecasts, and accelerating the pace of its share repurchases.

Europe's oil & gas index rose 1.7% to lead sectoral gains.

Still, there was an element of caution after Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell pushed back firmly against speculation of imminent rate cuts, prompting investors to reassess the trajectory of rates this year.

Traders are pricing in a 15% chance of a March rate cut, down from 46% a week ago, and see a 62% probability of a rate cut by May, according to the CME FedWatch Tool.

"With the U.S. economy bounding along, as evidenced by the latest services sector growth snapshot, policymakers still want to keep a tighter rein on demand, so high borrowing costs are likely to linger for longer," said Susannah Streeter, head of money and markets at Hargreaves Lansdown.

European stocks reached a two-year high last week, helped by earnings and gains in technology stocks on optimism about artificial intelligence (AI), but strong U.S. data and cautious comments from central bank policymakers have stalled the rally.

UBS dropped 2.4% after the Swiss bank said it had completed the first phase of integrating fallen rival Credit Suisse following fourth-quarter results.

Elsewhere, Bayer AG (ETR:BAYGN) fell 2.5% and dragged the German DAX lower by 0.1% after a U.S. appeals court refused to dismiss a Georgia doctor's lawsuit claiming the company's Roundup weedkiller caused cancer.

Infineon (OTC:IFNNY) slipped 0.9% after the chip manufacturer trimmed its full-year revenue guidance as industry-wide weak demand dented its first-quarter revenue.

Investors also appeared to shrug off data that showed German industrial orders unexpectedly jumped in December, driven by "an exceptionally" high number of aircraft orders.

Meanwhile, MorphoSys AG soared 14.7%, extending a 36% jump on Monday when Novartis AG (SIX:NOVN) said it would buy the cancer treatment developer for 2.7 billion euros ($2.9 billion).

Norwegian fabless chipmaker Nordic Semiconductor slumped 21.4%, hitting a more than three-year low, after it warned of low revenue into 2024 due to Internet of Things (IoT) sector headwinds.

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