European shares hit two-week high as growth optimism returns

The German share price index, DAX board, is seen at the stock exchange in Frankfurt, Germany, March 20, 2018. REUTERS/Staff/Remote

LONDON (Reuters) – A wave of optimism about the resilience of the global economy helped European shares make gains despite the escalation of the U.S.-China trade dispute and renewed divisions in the British government around Brexit.

  • The German share price index, DAX board, is seen at the stock exchange in Frankfurt, Germany, March 20, 2018. REUTERS/Staff/Remote
  • The pan-European STOXX 600 index rose 0.6 percent to its highest level since June 22, while Germany’s DAX gained 0.4 percent.

    Britain’s FTSE 100 .FTSE was ahead of the pack, up 0.9 percent as sterling slid after a second top-level resignation bruised the UK government.

    Strong job data in the United States on Friday reassured global equity investors who have yet to witness a tangible slowdown due to the implementation of higher trade barriers.

    “The actual trade tariffs are nothing new, the market has been aware of them for over a month, and for now conditions are still supportive for financial growth, allowing markets to move higher,” argued researchers at London Capital Group.

    “Sentiment could remain resilient until we see solid evidence of these trade tensions feed through to softer economic data, particularly in China,” they added.

    Data published on Monday also showed that German exports grew more than expected in May, slightly alleviating investors’ concerns Europe’s biggest economy would be dented by trade tensions.

    “We believe one should be buying into the current trade-driven weakness for a stronger growth in the second half, focusing on exporters,” wrote JP Morgan equity strategist Mislav Matejka.

    Industrial stocks Siemens (SIEGn.DE), ABB (ABBN.S), and Schneider Electric (SCHN.PA), which have been among the biggest fallers as trade tensions rise, rebounded to gain 0.6 to 1.8 percent.

    Financials were the biggest boost to the STOXX, with HSBC (HSBA.L), Santander (SAN.MC) and Credit Suisse (CSGN.S) top gainers as the sector rebounded, having been one of the worst hit by rising protectionism.

    Trade-sensitive luxury stocks Kering (PRTP.PA), LVMH (LVMH.PA) and Richemont (CFR.S) also rose 0.9 to 2 percent as investors bought back in to the sector.

    Basic resources and energy stocks led gains across Europe as copper and crude prices rebounded thanks to renewed optimism over global growth. Miners .SXPP were up 2 percent while the oil and gas index .SXEP rose 1.4 percent.

    Air France KLM (AIRF.PA) was a top performer on the STOXX, rising 6.3 percent after reporting higher passenger traffic for June while a leading French transport executive was touted as its possible new chief executive.

    Oslo-listed seismic surveyor TGS-Nopec (TGS.OL) was also a notable gainer, rising 7.6 percent after unveiling a better than expected outlook.

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