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Earnings, metal rally spur record high for European stocks

European stocks hit a record high on Thursday as a rally in commodity prices lifted miners, while some positive earnings reports offset worries about the pace of COVID-19 vaccination.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index was up 0.4% in its third session of gains, with miners leading the rise. Travel & leisure stocks hit a record high earlier in the session.

UK’s commodity-heavy FTSE 100 outperformed as a surge in metals prices lifted shares of companies such as Rio Tinto, Anglo American and BHP. [MET/L]

While European stocks have recovered all of its pandemic-induced losses, worries remain about the pace of recovery as the continent’s choppy vaccine roll-out hits more trouble.

U.S. drugmaker Johnson & Johnson delayed its COVID-19 shot to Europe and Denmark said it would drop a similar vaccine from AstraZeneca over the risk of blood clotting.

“The euro zone economy might lag behind others more than we had expected previously, because of the concerns around AstraZeneca,” said Paul Jackson, global head of asset allocation research at Invesco.

“Notwithstanding that, once they are vaccinated, European countries have more to gain than most others.”

Expectations of a strong earnings season and global economic rebound have also helped investors look past these concerns. Data on U.S. retail sales and weekly jobless claims will be keenly watched later in the day as investors gauge the pace of U.S. economic rebound.

Swiss engineering company ABB rose 3.5% after raising its full-year sales outlook.

French advertising group Publicis gained 3.7% as it returned to organic growth for the first time since before the COVID-19 pandemic. Shares in British rival WPP rose 0.4%.

German real estate companies Deutsche Wohnen , LEG Immobilien and TAG Immobilien rose between 0.9% and 3.5% after the Constitutional Court ruled that a law putting a rent cap on apartments in Berlin is invalid.

Britain’s food delivery company Deliveroo slipped 0.4% even as its quarterly orders more than doubled in its first trading update since its underwhelming market debut last month.

Norwegian lender Sbanken soared 30.3% after the country’s largest bank DNB agreed to buy the smaller competitor in a deal worth 11.1 billion Norwegian crowns ($1.3 billion).
Source: Reuters (Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta)

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