European Union

(dpa-AFX) – European markets ended on a firm note on Thursday amid optimism about global economic recovery thanks to some upbeat data out of the US, Europe and Asia, and the recent upward revision in global growth projections by the International Monetary Fund.

Investors also reacted positively to the minutes of the Federal Reserve’s March meeting. The minutes of the meeting reiterated that the central bank does not intend to change its ultra-loose monetary policy anytime soon.

The minutes from the European Central Bank’s recent meeting showed policymakers debated a smaller increase in bond purchases and agreed to front-load the buying this quarter on condition it could be cut later if conditions allow. Worries about spikes in coronavirus cases, slow pace of vaccination, and extended lockdown measures in several places weighed on markets and limited their upside.

The pan European Stoxx 600 climbed 0.58 per cent. Britain’s FTSE 100 ended 0.83 per cent up, France’s CAC 40 gained 0.57 per cent and Germany’s DAX advanced 0.17 per cent, while Switzerland’s SMI surged up 0.71 per cent. Among other markets in Europe, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Netherlands, Russia, Spain and Sweden moved higher.

Czech Republic, Iceland, Ireland, Portugal and Turkey closed flat, while Austria, Norway and Poland ended weak.

In the UK market, Experian, Sage Group, Aveva, 3i Group, Anglo American, Diageo, Intertek Group, British American Tobacco, Reckitt Benckiser, ICP and Imperial Brands gained 2.5 to 4.6 per cent.AstraZeneca shares found support despite reports that several European countries are considering to restrict the use of the company’s Covid-19 vaccine in younger people.

Johnson Matthey shares moved up sharply after the company said it expects group operating performance for 2020-21 to be around the top end of market expectations.

On the other hand, Aviva, Smurfit Kappa Group, Smith DS, BP, Royal Dutch Shell, IAG and Melrose Industries declined sharply.

In the French market, Hermes International, LOreal, Legrand, Teleperformance, Kering, Vinci and LVMH gained 1.5 to 3 per cent, while Renault, Air France-KLM, Michelin, Societe Generale, WorldLine, Total and Technip lost 1 to 3.4 per cent.

In Germany, Adidas, RWE, SAP, E.ON, Deutsche Wohnen, Henkel, Merck and Vonovia gained 1 to 2.3 per cent. Lufthansa, Covestro, Thyssenkrupp, Daimler, BASF and Deutsche Bank declined sharply.

In economic news, data from Destatis revealed that German factory orders growth accelerated in February driven by domestic demand. Factory orders grew 1.2 per cent month-on-month in February, faster than the 0.8 per cent increase in January and matching economists’ expectations.

On a yearly basis, growth in industrial orders improved notably to 5.6 per cent from 1.4 per cent a month ago.

The British construction sector grew at the fastest pace since 2014 in March, underpinned by strong rises in house building, commercial work and civil engineering, survey data from IHS Markit showed.

The corresponding index rose to 61.7 from 53.3 in February. This was the fastest expansion since September 2014.

Eurozone producer prices increased at a faster pace in February, data from Eurostat showed on Thursday. Producer prices rose 1.5 per cent year-on-year, following January’s 0.4 per cent increase.

Economists had forecast producer price inflation to climb to 1.4 per cent. On a monthly basis, producer prices gained 0.5 per cent, but slower than the 1.7 per cent increase posted in January. Prices were expected to rise 0.6 per cent.

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