Europe Stocks Rise a Third Day on Strong Business Activity Data

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European stocks rose for a third day, boosted by better-than-expected business activity data in Germany and France.

The Stoxx Europe 600 Index was up 0.8% at the close, with insurers leading gains. Banks fell after the European Central Bank lifted a de-facto ban on dividends, but imposed strict limits on payouts.

Investors are watching Brexit trade deal negotiations, U.S. stimulus package talks, and an escalating Covid outbreak that may see Germany locked down beyond January. Any update on bond purchases in the Federal Reserve’s policy decision after today’s European close will also be in focus.

European stocks have been trading within a steady range since mid-November, when they reached their highest level since late February, in a rally spurred by Covid vaccine progress. The advance, which has generally benefited economically sensitive cyclical stocks, has helped Britain’s FTSE 100 narrow some of its underperformance since the beginning of the year.

Europe Stocks Rise a Third Day on Strong Business Activity Data

“When you look at how the FTSE performed this year, there is certainly potential for a decent rebound,” CMC Markets Chief Market Analyst Michael Hewson said. “If we get a deal announced before Christmas, I can see the FTSE head back to 7,000 in the first quarter.”

Among single stocks, telecoms firm Altice Europe NV rose 23% after its founder made an improved buyout bid, and auto supplier Continental AG climbed 2.9% as investors welcomed its new medium-term targets. But, Belgian biotech Galapagos NV slumped 18% after its partner Gilead Sciences Inc. abandoned its pursuit of U.S. approval for an arthritis drug.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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