By Sruthi Shankar
(Reuters) -European stocks closed at a record high on Thursday as a rally in commodity prices lifted mining stocks and a slate of upbeat earnings reports offset worries about the pace of COVID-19 vaccinations.
The pan-European STOXX 600 index rose 0.5% in its third session of gains, with miners jumping 1.5%.
Travel & leisure stocks closed up 0.1% after hitting a record high earlier in the session.
The UK’s commodity-heavy FTSE 100 rose 0.6% to its highest level since February 2020 as a surge in metals prices lifted shares of companies such as Rio Tinto, Anglo American and BHP. [MET/L]
While European stocks have now recovered all of their pandemic-induced losses from last year, they have lagged their U.S. counterparts due to a choppy COVID-19 vaccine roll-out as well as a new wave of infections across the continent.
U.S. drugmaker Johnson & Johnson this week delayed the roll-out of its COVID-19 shot in Europe, while Denmark said it would drop a similar vaccine from AstraZeneca over the risk of blood clotting.
“The euro zone economy might lag 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.”
With U.S. economic data and corporate earnings reports reinforcing expectations of a swift global economic rebound, attention this month will turn to the quarterly earnings season in Europe.
Analysts expect earnings at STOXX 600 firms to rebound more than 50% in the first quarter following a slide of nearly 40% in the same quarter a year earlier, according to Refinitiv I/B/E/S data.
On Thursday, Swiss engineering company ABB rose 3.1% after raising its full-year sales outlook, while French advertising group Publicis gained 3.3% as it returned to organic growth for the first time since before the pandemic.
Shares in Publicis’ British rival WPP rose 0.5%.
German real estate companies Deutsche Wohnen, LEG Immobilien and TAG Immobilien rose between 0.9% and 2.5% after the Constitutional Court ruled that a law putting a rent cap on apartments in Berlin was invalid.
Britain’s food delivery company Deliveroo slipped 3.8% 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).
(Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru, additional reporting by Sagarika Jaisinghani, editing by Shounak Dasgupta, Kirsten Donovan)