Miners, travel shares lift Europe stocks at start of busy week

(Reuters) – European stocks inched higher on Monday as strong metal prices boosted miners and optimism related to reopenings following coronavirus lockdowns lifted travel stocks at the start of a busy week of corporate earnings and economic data.

The German share price index DAX graph is pictured at the stock exchange in Frankfurt, Germany, April 23, 2021. REUTERS/Staff

The pan-European STOXX 600 index rose 0.1% after it recorded its first weekly loss in eight on Friday.

A 10-year high for Shanghai copper prices and a surge in other metals boosted mining shares, with Europe’s basic resources index climbing 1.3% to lead sectoral gains. [MET/L]

Airlines including British Airways-owner IAG, Lufthansa and easyJet rose about 4% each, while planemaker Airbus jumped 3.2% on hopes of a revival in travel demand.

A top European Union official said on Sunday Americans who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 should be able to travel to Europe by summer.

“With Italy lifting many restrictions on Monday, France planning to ease measures next month, the jab rate trending up, and the PMIs pointing to persistently robust activity, we remain confident about a consumption-driven rebound starting in Q2,” analysts at Morgan Stanley said.

However, the Ifo Institute’s survey on Monday showed German business morale improved by less than expected in April amid a third wave of COVID-19 infections.

While earnings from mega-cap U.S. technology companies such as Apple could set the tone on Wall Street this week, Europe will see a barrage of earnings reports from UK banks, oil majors and healthcare companies.

Of the 15% of STOXX 600 companies that have reported so far, 66% topped earnings estimates, according to Refinitiv IBES data. In a typical quarter, 51% beat earnings estimates.

Swedish steelmaker SSAB jumped 2.9% after it reported earnings well above analysts’ forecasts and said the market recovery that started last autumn had strengthened in the first quarter.

Dutch health technology company Philips fell 2.6% as a 250-million-euro ($302 million) provision in the first quarter overshadowed a hefty jump in profit.

Austrian sensor maker AMS fell 3.5% after Credit Suisse double downgraded its stock to “underperform”, citing concerns around the company potentially losing product supply deals at Apple.

Volkswagen AG slipped 0.7% after the Financial Times reported the company had warned managers to prepare for a bigger production hit in the second quarter due to a global chip shortage.

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