European stocks kicked off the new quarter with small gains on Thursday, as optimism around a new US government spending plan eclipsed concerns of another Covid-19 wave with France imposing a third national lockdown.
The pan-European STOXX 600 index rose 0.2 per cent in early trading, hovering just 3 points below its all-time high. The benchmark ended the first quarter with a 7. per cent rise - its fourth straight quarter of gains.
European chip companies including ASML, ASMI , Infineon Technologies BE Semiconductor all rose between 1.8 per cent and 4.4 per cent after US chipmaker Micron Technology issued an upbeat revenue forecast.
Meanwhile, contract chipmaker TSMC said it plans to invest $100 billion over the next three years to increase capacity at its plants.
Wall Street stocks climbed overnight as investors pinned hopes on a strong US economy as president Joe Biden unveiled a sweeping $2.3 trillion spending plan including investments in roads, railways, broadband, clean energy and semiconductor manufacture.
In Dublin, the Iseq was up 0.4 per cent in early trading.
British shares tracked gains in Asian peers on Thursday, lifted by hopes of a swifter economic rebound this year, while Quilter rose after agreeing to sell its international business to Utmost Group. The blue-chip FTSE 100 index rose 0.5 per centwith industrials and bank stocks, mainly BAE Systems, Relx, Prudential Financial and Barclays, being the biggest gainers.
French retailers and travel stocks came under pressure after the latest lockdown. Hotels group Accor inched up 0.3 per cent, while catering companies Sodexo and Elior dropped almost 2 per cent.