European (re)insurance equities made timid gains in early trading, largely following Asian-Pacific markets higher after upbeat Chinese trade data fuelled optimism that its economy was bouncing back.

Optimism pushed the Stoxx Europe 600 Insurance index – an aggregate of the market performance of 600 European life and non-life carriers – 0.45 percent higher to 234.14 at 12:30 CET as European markets reopened after the long Easter weekend.

Most European benchmarks indices also traded in the green on Tuesday morning with the Stoxx Europe 600 up 0.8 percent in mid-morning trade, while Frankfurt’s Dax and Paris’s CAC 40 were up 1.1 percent and 0.2 percent respectively.

London’s FTSE 100 was the only major European index to trade lower with the benchmark down 0.33 percent at 5,823.21 points at 12:30 CET.

London-listed Lloyd’s carriers Beazley and Lancashire both got off to turbulent starts at the opening bell on Tuesday and were trading 4.3 percent and 2.8 percent lower in mid-morning trading, respectively.

Lloyd’s peer Hiscox witnessed sharper declines with shares down 11.9 percent to 905.00 pence per share at 12:30 CET. Shares in the carrier had traded almost 13 percent lower earlier on Tuesday as investors responded to news that a group of SME policyholders are threatening legal action over the carriers’ refusal to pay out on coronavirus BI claims.

European (re)insurance stocks point higher after choppy early trading…

Elsewhere, shares in Europe’s largest insurer Axa rose 0.42 percent after midday while peers Allianz and Zurich were trading 1.2 percent and 0.3 percent higher, respectively. Shares in Italian giant Generali registered more pronounced gains and were up 2.3 percent at 12:30 CET.

Half of The ‘big four’ European reinsurers also traded higher on Tuesday morning with Swiss Re up 1.25 percent and Munich Re up 0.62 percent. 

In contrast, reinsurers Hannover Re and Scor were trading 0.60 percent and 1.1 percent lower in early trading. 

The modest gains across Europe came as Asian markets also rose overnight following the Chinese trade data. China’s SSE index was up 1.6 percent and Japan’s Nikkei 225 was 3.1 percent higher and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was up 0.8 percent.

China’s trade figures for March showed an improvement from a weak performance in February. Imports and exports fell 0.9 percent and 6.6 percent respectively, but these were much better numbers than analysts had predicted.

Futures trading tipped the S&P 500 to rise 1.4 percent when Wall Street opens later on Tuesday. 

Optimism that the pace of the virus’s spread is close to peaking plus fiscal and monetary intervention have driven a rally in US stocks in recent weeks.