European shares enjoy best trading session in almost six months

Investors seek out stocks that were pushed down amid Omicron sell-offs

European shares posted their best session in almost six months on Wednesday, as investors picked up stocks that had been hammered in the past few sessions by fears about the spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant.

Automotive manufacturers, mining stocks and travel and leisure companies all made gains amid the bargain-hunting.


The Iseq index climbed amid more upbeat investor sentiment across Europe, closing 1.35 per cent higher.

After a subdued session on Tuesday as Covid-19 travel policies tightened, Ryanair rebounded in common with other travel stocks, advancing 4.7 per cent to €14.91.


Glanbia added 4.2 per cent to €11.89 after the food group said the Glanbia Co-op would not need to sell its shares in the company to fund the €307 million acquisition of the group's dairy arm, Glanbia Ireland.

Financial stocks rose, with AIB up 2.4 per cent at €1.98 and Bank of Ireland finishing 2.6 per cent higher at €4.94. Dalata Hotel Group surged 5.9 per cent to €3.60, while Paddy Power owner Flutter Entertainment closed 2.7 per cent higher at €123.00.

While most of the main Dublin-listed stocks gained, insulation-maker Kingspan was weak, declining almost 2 per cent to €100.20.


UK shares recovered ground, boosted by gains for travel and commodity-linked stocks after concerns around the Omicron variant eased slightly. The blue-chip index ended 1.6 per cent higher, clawing back from a 0.7 per cent drop in the previous session, aided by gains in banks, oil and mining stocks.

Leading gains on the index were the rate-sensitive banks, up 2.3 per cent, with major lenders including Standard Chartered, Barclays and Lloyds Banking Group all up nearly 3 per cent. Mining stocks jumped 2.3 per cent following a bounce-back in copper prices.

Oil majors BP and Royal Dutch Shell climbed more than 3 per cent each, as major producers prepared to discuss how to respond to the threat of a hit to fuel demand from the new variant.

The mid-cap FTSE 250 index added 1.7 per cent, with Wizz Air and Easyjet leading gains. Other travel stocks recouped some of Tuesday's heavy losses.

Pendragon climbed 9.7 per cent after it raised its annual profit outlook for the second time in two months on continued robust demand for used vehicles. Software group Blue Prism rose 2.4 per cent after it agreed to be bought by US-based SS&C Technologies.


The benchmark pan-European Stoxx 600 index rose 1.7 per cent, recovering from a sharp sell-off in the previous session. In Frankfurt, the Dax gained 2.5 per cent, while the Cac 40 advanced 2.4 per cent.

Husqvarna, the world's biggest maker of power gardening tools, jumped 5.4 per cent after raising its overall financial targets and growth ambitions for robotic lawn mowers and other battery-powered products.

Italy's Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena surged 16.7 per cent after saying it had begun a dialogue with the Italian Ministry of Economy and Finance to restart discussions on its plans to raise capital. Battered German property group Adler's shares surged 34.5 per cent, pulling up from all-time lows, after announcing divestitures.


Wall Street’s main indexes rebounded more than 1 per cent in early trading as investors appeared to look past concerns over rising inflation and Omicron.

Merck gained 1.9 per cent after a panel of advisers to the US Food and Drug Administration narrowly voted to recommend the agency authorise the drugmaker's antiviral pill to treat Covid-19.

Salesforce. com forecast current-quarter profit below estimates as it faces stiff competition from rivals including Microsoft, sending its shares down 6.7 per cent.

Market participants were also awaiting a Fed report, known as the Beige Book, on current economic conditions to provide further insight into the central bank’s stance on inflation.

– Additional reporting: Reuters