European stocks end week close to all-time highs

Mining and energy shares among the climbers as investor optimism returns

European stocks ended the week close to all-time highs as investors shrugged off worries about a third wave of coronavirus infections and focused on prospects of a solid global economic recovery.

Trading earlier in the week had been subdued by worries about new lockdowns and a slow pace of vaccination in the euro zone, but optimism about a stimulus-driven recovery in the US improved the outlook for global growth.


The Iseq finished the week with a 1.35 per cent climb on Friday, slightly outperforming the positive trend across Europe.

Building materials group CRH, the index's largest stock, rose 1.4 per cent to €38.78, while there was a 1.65 per cent gain for packaging company Smurfit Kappa, which closed at €40.76.


Ryanair nudged 0.4 per cent higher to €16.15, while Kerry added 0.9 per cent to €107.70 on a day when the food group's annual report showed that the pay packets of its top executives were cut by up to 46 per cent last year amid the fallout from the pandemic.

Insulation-maker Kingspan added 2.7 per cent, closing at €69.85, while Cairn Homes finished almost 0.8 per cent higher at €1.06.

Bank of Ireland rose 0.9 per cent to €4.24, and AIB surged 3.4 per cent to end the session at €2.23.


Both the FTSE 100 index and the mid-cap FTSE 250 index closed 1 per cent higher, with the blue chips led higher by gains for miners Rio Tinto, Glencore and BHP Group, which were up between 3.7 per cent and 5 per cent.

UK-listed copper miner Kaz Minerals rose 2.8 per cent after it received a final bid worth £4.02 billion (€4.7bn) from Nova Resources.

Engineering giant Smiths Group soared 6.9 per cent after its earnings showed it had outperformed market expectations despite a 4 per cent drop in pretax profits.

Insurance company Aviva finished 0.3 per cent higher after it ended its huge sell-off of non-core parts of the business by selling its Polish division for €2.7 billion.


The pan-European Stoxx 600 index rose 0.8 per cent on Friday, just enough to register its fourth straight weekly rise and seven points short of a record high.

Mining and energy stocks gave the biggest boost to the index, while defensive sectors including healthcare and utilities were slightly down.

Led by chipmakers, notably ASML and ASM International, the Stoxx 600 tech index rose 2.7 per cent, posting its biggest weekly gain since early November.

In Germany the Dax advanced 0.9 per cent, while the French Cac 40 closed 0.6 per cent higher.

Amid rising hopes of a strong economic recovery, the world's largest steelmaker, Arcelormittal, rose 7.4 per cent.

Shipping company AP Moller Maersk rose 5.5 per cent, rebounding after recent losses in the wake of a massive traffic jam caused by a giant container ship stuck in the Suez Canal, one of the world's busiest shipping channels.

Spain's Banco Santander added 2.9 per cent after saying it will offer to buy the 8.3 per cent stake in its Mexican unit it does not already own, strengthening its grip on its Latin American businesses.

Swiss engineering company ABB gained 1.9 per cent after it announced plans to buy back shares worth around $4.3 billion.


Wall Street’s main indexes broadly rose on Friday, with technology, energy and financial stocks providing the biggest boost as investors bet on what is expected to be the fastest economic growth since 1984. The S&P 500 and the Dow were both set to end a choppy week higher.

L Brands jumped about 5.3 per cent after the Victoria's Secret owner raised its current-quarter profit forecast for the second time this month as it benefits from consumers spending their stimulus cheques. – Additional reporting: Reuters