(Reuters) -European stocks rebounded on Wednesday after their worst sell-off this year as optimism about a strong earnings season countered worries about a rapid rise in COVID-19 cases in some countries.
Tech stocks were the top gainers, up almost 1.0%, with semiconductor equipment maker ASML jumping 4.5% after it raised its full-year sales forecast, citing strong demand amid a global computer chip shortage.
Smaller rival ASM International rose 1.3% on forecasting a rise in second-quarter orders.
The pan-European STOXX 600 index rose 0.7% after a blistering seven-week rally ran into a bout of profit-taking on Tuesday, when it fell 1.9%.
Some analysts pointed to concerns over the strength of a global economic recovery after India’s mounting coronavirus crisis and a global spike in COVID-19 cases.
“While the UK and the US may be moving towards re-opening, it’s not necessarily a straight line of recovery,” said Joshua Mahony, senior market analyst at IG. “What’s been happening in Brazil and India highlights the fact the virus is a massive issue.”
There were concerns about stretched valuations, with global equities trading at all-time highs and earnings expectations surging as vaccination drives and stimulus programmes support global recovery.
European earnings are expected to have risen a record 61% in the first quarter of 2021, Refinitiv IBES data showed, placing Europe on course for a rare outperformance versus corporate America.
The world’s second-largest brewer Heineken NV gained 4% after it reported better-than-expected quarterly sales, helped by increased beer sales in Africa and Asia.
French luxury goods group Kering was up 1.2% after Gucci’s revenues rebounded strongly in the first quarter.
Oil & gas stocks got a boost despite weaker oil prices, as Deutsche Bank started coverage of stocks including Royal Dutch Shell and France’s Total with a “buy” rating.
Among decliners, Italian football club Juventus slumped 11.7% after the breakaway European Super League was rocked by the departure of its six English clubs.
Dutch food delivery company Just Eat Takeaway fell 4.7% after the Financial Times reported Uber Eats was planning to launch in Germany.
Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta