European shares start last week of 2023 on strong footing

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Written By Pinang Driod

© Reuters. The German share price index DAX graph is pictured at the stock exchange in Frankfurt, Germany, December 21, 2023. REUTERS/Staff/File Photo

By Shashwat Chauhan

(Reuters) -European shares advanced on Wednesday, as tech stocks benefited from an overnight Wall Street rally amid persisting optimism around U.S. interest rate cuts as early as next March, while robust China data lifted miners.

The pan-European gained 0.3% as of 1010 GMT, following an over 0.4% increase in major Wall Street indexes overnight. [.N]

Basic resources were amongst the top gainers, rising 0.8% as prices of most base metals and iron ore advanced after data showed manufacturing activity in top consumer China improved last month. Energy stocks leaped 1.1%.

The technology sector, which houses Europe’s major chipmakers, jumped 1.0%, in line with their Wall Street peers.

On the downside, telecoms and insurers fell 0.4% and 0.1%, respectively.

Container shipping companies Maersk and Hapag Lloyd dropped 4.3% each as analysts pointed that an expected resumption of transit via the Suez Canal might trigger correction in freight rates.

Nordic shipping companies Frontline (NYSE:), Hoegh Autoliners, Wallenius Wilhelmsen and Hafnia fell between 0.7% and 5.4%.

Volumes are expected to be light as traders return from an extended Christmas break, and with only a few trading days left in 2023.

The STOXX 600’s seven-week winning streak has helped push the benchmark up nearly 13% so far this year, with retail and technology amongst the best-performing sectors.

Global markets have rallied since mid-December when the Federal Reserve hinted at rate cuts next year. However, the European Central Bank (ECB) did not share a similar outlook.

“Pricing for the first ECB cut in March or April 2024 has been relatively consistent, but the gap versus the Fed is no longer considered wide,” said Geoff Yu, EMEA macro strategist at BNY Mellon (NYSE:).

“There is also very little difference between ECB and Fed policymakers’ pushback against current pricing, though considering the labour market situation on the ground, we believe the Fed’s warnings are more credible.”

Among individual stocks, Bayer (OTC:) rose 2.5% after the German drugs-to-pesticides group said it won a trial in a lawsuit brought by a California man who said he developed cancer from exposure to its Roundup weedkiller.

Vestas Wind Systems jumped 6.1% after the Danish wind turbine-maker announced a number of new orders.

UK’s Anglo American (JO:) advanced 4.0% after a report stated the miner is gearing up to sell a minority stake in Woodsmith, Britain’s biggest mining project.

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