The German share price index DAX graph is pictured at the stock exchange in Frankfurt, Germany, February 15, 2022.
The German share price index DAX graph is pictured at the stock exchange in Frankfurt, Germany, February 15, 2022. Reuters / STAFF

European shares rose on Wednesday as a slate of upbeat earnings from companies including Infineon, AXA and Just Eat Takeaway offset some fears of a slowdown following gloomy business activity data from the region.

The STOXX 600 index gained 0.5%, recouping losses from the last two days.

The pan-European benchmark fell on Tuesday on weak global factory data and on concerns that U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi's visit to Taiwan could escalate tensions between Beijing and Washington.

"Pelosi's trip has come to an end, which traders took as a sign that the relationship between the U.S. and China are at least better than they were 48 hours ago, so as far as markets are concerned, there aren't going to be any major repercussions," said David Madden, market analyst at Equiti Capital.

Meanwhile, data on Wednesday showed business activity in the euro zone contracted slightly in July for the first time since early last year as consumers reined in spending amid a cost-of-living crisis.

Markets have been under pressure lately as inflationary pressures, rising interest rates and supply worries, notably for energy, have led to sharp drops in risk appetite.

"A lot of the negative economic data and news was already priced into European markets in June and July," said Madden.

"Companies have started worrying about rising costs and squeezed margins - it's now about, are we going to see more inflationary pressures? Probably not, because borrowing costs have been rising."

Major global central banks delivered nearly 1,200 basis points in rate hikes in July alone.

Among the market's main movers, shares in Just Eat, Europe's largest meal delivery company, rose 5.4% after it posted a smaller than expected loss for the first half of 2022 and maintaining forecasts for the year.

Microchip supplier Infineon rose 5.0% after reporting a rise in quarterly revenue and lifting its full-year outlook as it continues to benefit from a semiconductor shortage.

French insurer AXA firmed 5.7% after announcing a new share buyback programme as it posted a 3% rise in first-half net profit, while Commerzbank added 2.5% on a bigger-than-expected second-quarter net profit.

Societe Generale jumped 3.1% as buoyant activity across retail and investment banking helped the bank report a smaller-than-expected loss in the second quarter.

Weighing on shares, Novo Nordisk fell 9.4%. The Danish drugmaker lifted sales and profit forecasts for the year on strong first-half earnings, but analysts pointed to downbeat sales of Wegovy, its new obesity drug.