European shares hit two-week highs on Thursday as investor sentiment improved on signs the impact of the Omicron coronavirus variant may not be as severe as feared.
The pan-European Stoxx 600 gained 0.2 per cent as of 0813 GMT, boosted by travel and auto stocks, tracking a global share rally that was also helped by robust U.S. economic data.
The risk of needing to stay in hospital for patients with Omicron may be 40 per cent to 45 per cent lower than for patients with the Delta variant, according to research by London's Imperial College.
Another study from South Africa found people diagnosed with Omicron in the country between October 1st and November 30th were 80 per cent less likely to be admitted to hospital than those diagnosed with another variant in the same period.
AstraZeneca inched up 0.3 per cent after the drugmaker said a three-dose course of its Covid-19 vaccine was effective against the Omicron variant, citing data from an Oxford University lab study.
Flutter Entertainment gained 2.6 per cent after announcing it would buy Italian online gaming operator Sisal for £1.62 billion (€1.9 billion), as the online betting group looks to expand its footprint in Europe.
Continental added 1.5 per cent after its CEO told a magazine that the German automotive supplier could hit the upper end of its profit margin outlook in 2021 after vehicle production picked up in the fourth quarter. – Reuters