European stocks close to all-time highs as miners, tech shine

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(Reuters) – European stocks ended the week close to all-time highs, with miners prominent as investors shrugged off worries about a third wave of coronavirus infections and focused on prospects of a solid global economic recovery.

FILE PHOTO: The German share price index DAX graph is pictured at the stock exchange in Frankfurt, Germany, March 25, 2021. REUTERS/Staff

The pan-European STOXX 600 index rose 0.8% on Friday, just enough to register its fourth straight weekly rise and seven points short of a record high.

Mining and oil & gas stocks gave the biggest boost to the index, while defensive sectors including healthcare and utilities were slightly down.

Led by chipmakers, notably ASML and ASM International, the STOXX 600 tech index rose 2.7%, posting its biggest weekly gain since early November.

Trading earlier in the week was subdued by worries about new lockdowns and a slow pace of vaccination in the euro zone, but optimism about a stimulus-driven recovery in the United States brightened the outlook for global growth.

“Ultimately – you still have abundant fiscal and monetary support as the economies open up,” said Ankit Gheedia, BNP Paribas’ head of equity and derivative strategy for Europe.

Though the market has been driven mainly by third wave concerns and slower vaccinations in continental Europe over the past week, Gheedia sees supply picking up sharply over the next few weeks.

“It’s the best time to be long equities…. with value as a longer-term trade.”

With rising hopes of a strong economic recovery, the world’s largest steelmaker, Arcelormittal , rose 7.4%, while shares in Rio Tinto, Glencore and BHP Group were up between 3.7% and 5%. [MET/L]

UK-listed copper miner Kaz Minerals Plc rose 2.8% after it received a final bid worth 4.02 billion pounds ($5.53 billion) from Chairman-led Nova Resources.

Morgan Stanley said global equities should slow down but Europe was poised to outperform relative to other markets, as it expects the region’s relative economic momentum to improve over the next 3-6 months.

Shipping company A.P. Moller Maersk rose 5.5%, rebounding after recent losses in the wake of a massive traffic jam caused by a giant container stuck in the Suez Canal, one of the world’s busiest shipping channels.

Spain’s Banco Santander added 2.9% after saying it will offer to buy the 8.3% stake in its Mexican unit it doesn’t already own, strengthening its grip on its Latin American businesses.

Swiss engineering company ABB gained 1.9% after it announced plans to buyback shares worth around $4.3 billion.

Graphic: European stocks volatility –

Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru and Thyagaraju Adinarayan in London; Editing by Arun Koyyur and John Stonestreet

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