European stocks extend gains as Brexit deal boosts UK markets

FILE PHOTO: The German share price index DAX graph is pictured at the stock exchange in Frankfurt, Germany, December 28, 2020. REUTERS/Staff/File Photo

(Reuters) -European stocks extended their year-end rally on Tuesday as a Brexit trade deal, hopes of an expanded U.S. stimulus package and euro zone’s marathon COVID-19 vaccination campaign brightened prospects for global growth in 2021.

The pan-European STOXX 600 was up 1.2%, rising for a fifth straight session and scaling a new 10-month high.

UK stocks outperformed, with the blue-chip FTSE 100 jumping 2.6% in its first day of trading after the sealing of a Brexit trade agreement between Britain and the European Union on Thursday.

AstraZeneca rose 4.7% on news that the British government is expected to approve COVID-19 vaccine shots for emergency use within a few days. UK market gains were largely broad based.

The pound firmed slightly, with investors worried that the bare-bones nature of the deal leaves Britain far more detached from the EU than was thought likely in 2016.

The German DAX rose 0.5% and extended a record run after Wall Street rallied to all-time highs on hopes that a long-awaited U.S. pandemic relief package would be expanded. The U.S. House of Representatives voted to meet President Donald Trump’s demand for $2,000 COVID-19 relief checks on Monday, sending the measure onto the Republican-controlled Senate. “This is but a resumption of the pandemic bull market, where cheer is stimulated by policy stimulus,” Mizuho analysts wrote in a note.

Software group SAP rose 2.2% to provide the biggest boost to the DAX after its unit, Qualtrics International Inc, filed for a U.S. initial public offering.

Travel and leisure stocks rose the most among sectors, with TUI AG, Lufthansa and British Airways-owner IAG rising between 3.3% and 10.4%.

The EU vaccination drive kicked off at the weekend, with health workers and residents of care homes across the bloc among the first to get the shots from Pfizer Inc.

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