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European shares propped up by commodities, Powell speech in focus

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By Reuters
European shares rise as recovery optimism lifts banks, miners
European shares rise as recovery optimism lifts banks, miners   -   Copyright  Thomson Reuters 2021
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By Sagarika Jaisinghani and Ambar Warrick

– European shares settled higher on Tuesday as mining and energy stocks benefited from stable commodity prices, while investors hunkered down ahead of a speech by U.S. Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell.

The pan-European STOXX 600 closed 0.3% higher after flitting between gains through the session, with mining stocks rising 1.3% as base metal prices appeared to have stabilized from a recent plunge. [O/R]

Chemical stocks rose 1.1% to a record high, as investors favoured sectors most likely to benefit from an economic recovery this year.

Irish stocks were the best performers in the region, surging 1.6% after Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party named Jeffrey Donaldson as its new leader – its third leader in a matter of weeks amid crucial post-Brexit talks.

Irish stocks had tumbled last week after Donaldson’s predecessor, Edwin Poots, resigned after just three weeks on the job.

Among broader markets, economically sensitive sectors including banks and industrials rose amid signals that the Fed could soon begin raising interest rates.

The focus this week will be on a slew of Fed speakers, beginning with Chair Jerome Powell, who is due to speak before the U.S. Congress on Tuesday at 1800 GMT.

“If Powell is among the members believing that monetary policy normalisation should start in the months to come, equities and other risk-linked assets are likely to pull back again,” said Charalambos Pissouros, senior market analyst at JFD Group.

After logging its worst week in four months on Friday, the pan-European STOXX 600 was helped by encouraging comments from European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde on economic growth.

Europe’s volatility index was down at 17.77 after spiking to a one-month high of 22.99 on Monday.

Oil and gas stocks rose 0.9% as oil prices recovered from recent losses, while real estate stocks were also among the top gainers.

Travel and leisure stocks rose 0.5% after British Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the country was working on easing travel restrictions for fully vaccinated people.

Among individual movers, Irish building insulation maker Kingspan Group topped the STOXX 600 after it forecast strong sales for the first half of 2021.

French healthcare group Sanofi fell 0.6% even as it said the company and its U.S. partner Translate Bio had started a Phase I clinical trial evaluating an mRNA-based investigational vaccine against seasonal influenza.