Tech and car sectors push European shares to best gains in over a year

Values continue to recover as tide of worry ebbs over Omicron coronavirus variant

The main mover on the Iseq was CRH. Shares in the building materials giant jumped on speculation that it is preparing to sell the north American glass building products unit. File photograph: The Irish Times

The main mover on the Iseq was CRH. Shares in the building materials giant jumped on speculation that it is preparing to sell the north American glass building products unit. File photograph: The Irish Times

 

European stocks jumped 2.5 per cent on Tuesday, boosted by a strong rebound in technology shares as worries somewhat eased over the Omicron coronavirus variant, while German shares surged close to 3 per cent led by carmakers.

The continent-wide Stoxx 600 index logged its best session since last November, bouncing back to levels before worries emerged about the new virus variant.

“Last week’s sellers have been rudely pushed out of the way in a mad scramble to get back into equities now that Omicron fears are receding almost as fast as they appeared,” said Chris Beauchamp, chief market analyst at IG.

Billions have been added to share prices since Friday’s lows, he added. “December is living up to its reputation as one of the strongest months for equities.”

DUBLIN

The main mover on the Iseq was CRH. Shares in the building materials giant jumped on Tuesday afternoon on speculation that it is preparing to sell the north American glass building products unit, Oldcastle Building Envelope, for more than $3 billion (€2.7 billion).

Bloomberg reported that the Dublin-based group is working with advisers and recently started contacting potential buyers, adding that the business is likely to attract interest from private equity firms. CRH shares closed 2.7 per cent up at €45.61. Bank of Ireland and AIB both advanced, by 1.6 per cent and 2.5 per cent respectively, amid more positive sentiment in markets generally. PaddyPower Betfair owner Flutter rose nearly 5 per cent to €129.90.

EUROPE

Luxury stocks were among the biggest boosts, lifting France’s CAC 40 2.9 per cent, while Porsche and Volkswagen led auto stocks higher.

The carmakers jumped more than 8 per cent each after a report that the Porsche and Piech families, who control Volkswagen’s largest shareholder, are considering selling part of their VW stake and using the proceeds to buy a substantial number of shares in Porsche.

Carmaker Stellantis advanced 3.6 per cent on plans to generate about €4 billion by 2026 and about €20 billion by 2030 from software offerings.

Among individual stocks, British American Tobacco gained 1 per cent after backing its full-year forecast, buoyed by more people switching to the tobacco giant’s vaping and oral nicotine products. Defensive sectors such as healthcare and food and beverages were among decliners on Stoxx 600.

LONDON

The UK’s FTSE 100 rose to a three-week highs on Tuesday, boosted by mining stocks and positive earnings outlooks, with global markets taking relief from receding concerns about the Omicron variant.

The commodity-heavy FTSE 100 ended 1.5 per cent higher with base metal miners leading gains as copper prices were boosted by monetary policy easing in top consumer China.

Plumbing parts distributor Ferguson advanced 5.9 per cent and was among the top gainers on the index after a strong revenue growth forecast. Rental equipment provider Ashtead Group rose 3.9 per cent after raising the dividend and saying it expects full-year results to be ahead of previous estimates.

“Ferguson spun off its UK-based operation Wolseley, so it’s now just a US-based company and Ashtead also has a very big presence in the US,” said Michael Hewson, chief markets analyst at CMC Markets.

“They’re essentially leveraging a decent recovery in the US economy and that’s why they are posting decent gains.”

The FTSE 100 has rebounded to levels touched before the detection of the Omicron variant in late November after experts said the new strain might not be as severe as feared.

NEW YORK

The Nasdaq rallied more than 2 per cent on Tuesday as technology firms bounced back on easing concerns around Omicron, while Intel jumped after plans to take its self-driving car unit public. Investors cheered the chip giant’s decision to list Mobileye in the United States in mid-2022, sending its shares 5 per cent higher.

The Philadelphia SE Semiconductor index surged 3.5 per cent, bouncing off a near one-month low hit in the previous session. Ten of 11 major S&P sectors advanced in early trading, with the information technology sector, which houses companies like Visa, Mastercard, salesforce.com and Apple, gaining 2.5 per cent.

Wall Street’s main indexes closed higher on Monday as optimistic comments from a top US official about Omicron encouraged investors. – Additional reporting by Reuters

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