By Anisha Sircar and Ambar Warrick
-European shares closed their sixth straight week of gains at a new high on Friday, as strong results from Cartier owner Richemont rounded off a robust earnings season.
The pan-European STOXX 600 index rose 0.3% to a new peak of 486.75 points, and added 0.7% for the week. It has finished at record highs in four of the five sessions this week.
Richemont surged 10.9% and was the best-performing European stock for the day, after it beat six-month profit estimates and said it was seeking investors for its loss-making Yoox business.
The luxury sector also got a boost from France’s LVMH, which gained 2.5% on news that Louis Vuitton was planning to open its first duty-free store in China.
French blue-chip shares also finished the week at all-time highs, with carmaker Renault jumping 4.4% after Morgan Stanley upgraded its stock.
“The earnings season is confirmation to markets that the underlying growth and demand picture is still very strong, even though there are companies talking about supply issues and margin pressures going forward,” Seema Shah, chief strategist at Principal Global Investors, said.
“But you’re probably going to get to a point where returns get smaller and you see more volatility – investors will have to make that adjustment in their minds.”
The STOXX 600 has seen several record highs in November, buoyed by dovish central bank messages, upbeat earnings reports and signs of post-pandemic economic revival.
However, ECB policymakers acknowledged on Friday that euro zone inflation may decline more slowly than earlier thought, partly due to supply chain bottlenecks.
Further, Europe has become the epicentre of COVID-19 again, with Germany, France, and the Netherlands experiencing a surge in infections, and prompting some governments to consider re-imposing lockdowns, according to fresh data.
Travel and leisure stocks were the worst weekly performers, down 3.7% as investors feared new restrictions.
Oil stocks led losses in Europe on Friday, dipping 1% as crude prices were dented by a firmer U.S. dollar owing to market bets of an earlier-than-expected Federal Reserve rate hike. [O/R]
Mining was the best-performing European sector this week, up 4% as some relief over China’s debt-addled property market, particularly with developer Evergrande, drove commodity prices higher. [MET/L]
Among other stocks, Italian infrastructure firm Atlantia rose 1.7% after raising its 2021 forecast, while Dutch oil and chemical storage group Vopak advanced 1.2% after beating estimates for quarterly profit.
(Reporting by Anisha Sircar in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva and Andrew Heavens)