European shares end near 3-week high as auto, travel sectors rally

The German share price index DAX graph is pictured at the stock exchange in Frankfurt

(Reuters) – European stocks hit a near three-week high on Tuesday, as U.S. stimulus bets and encouraging data out of China and Germany galvanised growth-linked cyclical sectors like travel and leisure, banking and automakers.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index <.STOXX> closed 1.7% higher, with Wall Street’s S&P 500 <.SPX> coming in close quarters with an all-time high as investors hoped for more U.S. fiscal stimulus. [.N]

Carmakers <.SXAP> surged 4.4% in Europe after data showed China’s auto sales climbed 16.4% in July, the fourth straight month of gains as the world’s biggest vehicle market comes off lows hit during the coronavirus lockdown.

Other hard-hit sectors like travel & leisure <.SXTP>, oil & gas <.SXEP> and banks <.SX7P> jumped between 3.7% and 4.5%.

Unprecedented monetary and fiscal stimulus, hopes of a COVID-19 vaccine and Europe’s relative success in limiting the spread of coronavirus have helped the STOXX 600 climb 38% from its March lows, but remains about 15% below its record highs.

“There has been a decent tick-up in economic growth momentum, and earnings for some of the cyclical sectors have come in better than expected,” said Paul Danis, chief global strategist at wealth manager Brewin Dolphin.

“There is a good reason to believe that some of the beaten-down value names could pick up. But it does make sense to have bias for the mega-cap growth names.”

A ZEW survey showed investor sentiment in Germany picked up more-than-expected in August, reflecting hopes that Europe’s biggest economy is on the road to recovery.

The upbeat global mood helped investors look past data showing the number of people in work in Britain suffered the biggest drop since 2009 in the three months through June.

Holiday Inn-owner InterContinental Hotels <IHG.L> gained 4.8% as it saw some “very early” signs of a recovery in demand, but its profit slumped 82% in the first half of 2020.

German online fashion retailer Zalando SE <ZALG.DE> rose 1.9% after reporting a more than doubling of sales on its site.

Of the 240 companies in the STOXX 600 that have reported second-quarter earnings so far, 60.4% topped analysts’ estimates, according to Refinitiv Eikon data. In a typical quarter, half beat estimates.

Banco BPM <BAMI.MI> surged 6.9% on expectations that Italy’s third-largest bank could become involved in a possible merger.

Defensive sectors like real estate <.SX86P>, utilities <.SX6P>, healthcare <.SXDP> and food & beverage <.SX3P> – considered more stable during an economic crisis – posted smaller gains.

(Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur and Shailesh Kuber)

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