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Defensive, technology stocks power European markets to record close

European stocks mixed as commodities slide
European stocks mixed as commodities slide   -   Copyright  Thomson Reuters 2021
By Reuters

By Shreyashi Sanyal

– European stocks reached a record high after healthcare, utilities and technology gains outweighed declines triggered by a fall in commodity prices earlier on Monday.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index rose 0.2% to a closing high of 470.68 points, powered by rises in the defensive sectors of utilities and healthcare.

Technology stocks rose 0.5%, led by a 4.5% jump in British food delivery company Deliveroo after Germany’s Delivery Hero took a 5.09% stake in it.

Oil majors Royal Dutch Shell, BP and TotalEnergies slipped about 1% each as crude prices fell more than 2.5% on fears that pandemic-led curbs in Asia, particularly China, would dent fuel demand. [O/R]

Miners also fell on weaker metal prices after data showed China’s export growth unexpectedly slowed in July. [GOL/] [MET/L] [IRONORE/]

“Oil remains under pressure, but while there might well be some Delta variant fears driving the move, the fact that equities have remained broadly calm points towards an odd disconnect,” said Chris Beauchamp, chief market analyst at IG.

“Either equities are blithely ignoring a major worry, or oil prices are undergoing a self-contained selloff that is being driven chiefly by supply concerns.”

The STOXX 600 capped its best week since mid-March on Friday, on the back of a flurry of dealmaking and strong earnings. Volumes are expected to thin as many traders head for summer holidays.

Of the 70% of the STOXX 600 companies that have reported so far, 68% have topped analysts’ profit estimates, Refinitiv IBES data shows. Only 51% beat expectations in a typical quarter.

Investors will be keenly watching U.S. inflation data this week to see if the numbers make a case for an early tapering announcement by the Federal Reserve, the odds of which were cemented after a strong jobs report on Friday.

Vectura rose 5.5% after U.S. tobacco company Philip Morris raised its bid for the British drugmaker.

Among decliners, Hargreaves Lansdown fell 11.3% even after posting higher annual underlying earnings as Britain’s biggest fund supermarket said it did not expect equity trading volumes to remain at high levels.

HeidelbergCement, the world’s second-largest cement maker, fell 2.9% after Barclays downgraded the stock to “underweight”, citing muted earnings growth due to inflationary pressures.