(RTTNews) – European markets ended on a firm note on Thursday amid optimism about global economic recovery thanks to some upbeat data out of the U.S., Europe and Asia, and the recent upward revision in global growth projections by the International Monetary Fund.
Investors also reacted positively to the minutes of the Federal Reserve’s March meeting. The minutes of the meeting reiterated that the central bank does not intend to change its ultra-loose monetary policy anytime soon.
The minutes from the European Central Bank’s recent meeting showed policymakers debated a smaller increase in bond purchases and agreed to front-load the buying this quarter on condition it could be cut later if conditions allow.
Worries about spikes in coronavirus cases, slow pace of vaccination, and extended lockdown measures in several places weighed on markets and limited their upside.
The pan European Stoxx 600 climbed 0.58%. The U.K.’s FTSE 100 ended 0.83% up, France’s CAC 40 gained 0.57% and Germany’s DAX advanced 0.17%, while Switzerland’s SMI surged up 0.71%.
Among other markets in Europe, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Netherlands, Russia, Spain and Sweden moved higher.
Czech Republic, Iceland, Ireland, Portugal and Turkey closed flat, while Austria, Norway and Poland ended weak.
In the UK market, Experian, Sage Group, Aveva, 3i Group, Anglo American, Diageo, Intertek Group, British American Tobacco, Reckitt Benckiser, ICP and Imperial Brands gained 2.5 to 4.6%.
AstraZeneca shares found support despite reports that several European countries are considering to restrict the use of the company’s Covid-19 vaccine in younger people.
Johnson Matthey shares moved up sharply after the company said it expects group operating performance for 2020-21 to be around the top end of market expectations.
On the other hand, Aviva, Smurfit Kappa Group, Smith DS, BP, Royal Dutch Shell, IAG and Melrose Industries declined sharply.
In the French market, Hermes International, LOreal, Legrand, Teleperformance, Kering, Vinci and LVMH gained 1.5 to 3%, while Renault, Air France-KLM, Michelin, Societe Generale, WorldLine, Total and Technip lost 1 to 3.4%.
In Germany, Adidas, RWE, SAP, E.ON, Deutsche Wohnen, Henkel, Merck and Vonovia gained 1 to 2.3%. Lufthansa, Covestro, Thyssenkrupp, Daimler, BASF and Deutsche Bank declined sharply.
In economic news, data from Destatis revealed that German factory orders growth accelerated in February driven by domestic demand. Factory orders grew 1.2% month-on-month in February, faster than the 0.8% increase in January and matching economists’ expectations.
On a yearly basis, growth in industrial orders improved notably to 5.6% from 1.4% a month ago.
The U.K. construction sector grew at the fastest pace since 2014 in March, underpinned by strong rises in house building, commercial work and civil engineering, survey data from IHS Markit showed.
The corresponding index rose to 61.7 from 53.3 in February. This was the fastest expansion since September 2014.
UK recruitment activity improved sharply in March on hopes of a return to normal operations as the government announced plans to ease the coronavirus pandemic-linked lockdown measures.
Permanent placement growth hit a near six-year high, while temp billings expanded at the quickest rate since November 2017, results of the latest KPMG and REC, UK Report on Jobs survey showed Thursday.
IHS Markit collected the survey data from March 12 to 25.
Eurozone producer prices increased at a faster pace in February, data from Eurostat showed on Thursday.
Producer prices rose 1.5% year-on-year, following January’s 0.4% increase. Economists had forecast producer price inflation to climb to 1.4%.
On a monthly basis, producer prices gained 0.5%, but slower than the 1.7% increase posted in January. Prices were expected to rise 0.6%.
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