By Sruthi Shankar and Ambar Warrick
(Reuters) – European stocks closed at a record high on Friday, marking strong weekly gains as positive economic data and upbeat earnings underpinned hopes of a swift economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The pan-European STOXX 600 index rose 0.9%% to a record high of 444.93 points. It added 1.7% this week- its best performance since mid-March.
Global stocks rallied to record highs as investors scaled back expectations of policy tapering by the U.S. Federal Reserve, after data showed the U.S. labour market had a long road to recovery from the pandemic. [MKTS/GLOB]
European technology stocks were the best performers for the day, rising 2.2% as they recovered from a rout seen earlier in the week. The sector ended the week largely unchanged.
Basic resource stocks were the best weekly performers, adding 7.2% for the week and ending at over a decade-high as optimism over recovering global demand pushed up base metal and iron ore prices.
The German DAX rose 1.3%, inching closer to its lifetime high, while France’s CAC 40 ended at its highest level since November 2000 and UK’s FTSE 100 breached the 7,100 mark for the first time since February 2020.
Data showed German companies increased their exports for the eleventh month in a row in March, with growth coming in at 1.2%, twice the rate economists had forecast.
A swathe of positive earnings and data has helped European stocks rally to record highs this year, amid growing optimism over COVID-19 vaccine programs spurring a return to normalcy.
“It’s going to be an exceptionally strong couple of quarters going forward, and that makes it very unlikely that the market will suffer in a big way over the next six months,” said Andrea Cicione, head of strategy at TS Lombard.
The moment growth starts to slow down, probably at the same time the Fed starts taking some liquidity away, markets will be more vulnerable, Cicione said.
On the earnings front, German sportswear company Adidas surged 8.4% after it raised its 2021 sales outlook.
Jewellery maker Pandora gained 3.0% after reporting 214% sales growth in April.
UK’s Meggitt jumped 8.3% after a media report of takeover, while French mall owner Klepierre edged lower on trimming its 2021 cashflow forecast.
Spanish energy and infrastructure group Acciona rose 2.3% after it said it expects to list a stake in its energy business in the first half of this year.
(Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva and Frances Kerry)