Market Overview

European stocks inch towards record high as PMIs, chip rally support

European stocks kicked off the new quarter with gains on Thursday, as optimism around a new U.S. government spending plan and strong factory activity data out of the euro zone eclipsed concerns about another lockdown in France. The pan-European STOXX 600 index rose 0.5%, hovering just 2 points below its all-time high. The benchmark ended the first quarter with a 7.7% rise – its fourth straight quarter of gains. The German DAX climbed 0.6% to hit a record high, while the UK’s FTSE 100 also gained 0.6%.

Despite slow vaccination programmes and a fresh pandemic wave hitting several countries, European markets have recovered almost all of their pandemic-driven losses on strong manufacturing activity and a bounceback in economy-linked stocks such as banks and energy. Data showed euro zone factory activity growth galloped at its fastest pace in the near 24-year history of a leading business survey in March.

Helping global sentiment further, U.S. President Joe Biden unveiled a sweeping $2.3 trillion spending plan on Wednesday that includes investments in roads, railways, broadband, clean energy and semiconductor manufacture. Chip stocks including those of ASML, ASMI, Infineon Technologies BE Semiconductor all rose between 1.2% and 4% after U.S. chipmaker Micron Technology issued an upbeat revenue forecast.

Also boosting the sector, contract chipmaker TSMC said it plans to invest $100 billion over the next three years to increase capacity at its plants. British food delivery firm Deliveroo’s shares inched down 0.8% after plunging by as much as 30% in their trading debut on Wednesday. German peer Delivery Hero jumped 3.4% after Dutch tech investment company Prosus NV raised its stake in the company. France’s blue-chip CAC 40 lagged after the latest lockdown announcement.

European stocks inch towards record high as PMIs, chip rally support, Reuters, Apr 1

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