European Stocks Steady as U.K. Budget Winners Boost FTSE 100

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European equities were little changed as investors rotated into cyclicals and out of defensive shares, while some U.K. firms and sectors rose following the country’s budget.

The Stoxx Europe 600 Index closed up less than 0.1%, as gains for carmakers and travel shares offset declines in utilities and health-care shares. The FTSE 100 rallied 0.9% after Britain’s spring budget. U.K. homebuilders climbed after the government confirmed support measures, while Diageo Plc advanced as a planned increase in alcohol duties was canceled in the announcement.

European Stocks Steady as U.K. Budget Winners Boost FTSE 100

Equities in Europe have had a bumpy start to 2021, with a vaccination-driven rally peaking in mid-February. Since then, spiking yields in U.S. treasuries and German bunds have damped investors’ appetite for stocks, particularly weighing on so-called bond-proxy haven sectors.

“Markets are transitioning to a more robust and mature phase of the recovery trade,” according to Barclays Plc strategists led by Emmanuel Cau. They expect European stocks to continue to catch up with U.S. peers, because cheaper value shares and non-U.S. equities stand to benefit from rising growth and inflation expectations.

European Stocks Steady as U.K. Budget Winners Boost FTSE 100

Automotive stocks accounted for most of the day’s top performers, buoyed by overall cyclical strength, while UBS Group AG analyst upgrades additionally boosted Renault SA and Continental AG. British insurer Hiscox Ltd. trailed the pack, having scrapped its dividend amid worse-than-expected gross written premiums.

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