By Anisha Sircar
-European shares ended higher in thin trading on Monday, led by gains in technology and healthcare stocks, with Roche rising on regulatory approval for COVID-19-related products.
The pan-European STOXX 600 rose 0.7% with technology shares and defensive sectors like healthcare and construction <.SXOP> leading gains.
The technology sub-index is on-track to be the top performer among European sectors in 2021 and is set to gain around 33%, followed by banking shares.
Markets globally also inched higher in thin trading with the S&P 500 hitting record highs over easing concerns of the Omicron coronavirus variant. [MKTS/GLOB]
Following a 4% drop in 2020, the STOXX 600 is on course for a 21.7% jump this year after encouraging study results on the Omicron variant drove gains last week.
"Low volume and no new surprising headlines usually allow asset prices to follow the prevailing path of least resistance," Charalambos Pissouros, head of research at JFD Group, said.
Still, the high transmissibility of the new variant remains a concern, with rising cases worldwide threatening recovery.
France hit another COVID-19 infection record on Friday, while airlines around the world cancelled more than 4,500 flights over the weekend and China reported its highest daily rise in local infections in 21 months.
"Most nations may prefer not to tighten restrictions further this week in order not to spoil the holidays, but this could be the case early next year," Pissouros said.
Among individual stocks, high-tech industrial group Groupe Gorgé jumped 6.4% after confirming an indicative offer for its acquisition of iXblue.
Roche added 0.9% after Swiss drugs regulator Swissmedic approved Ronapreve, an antibody treatment jointly developed with Regeneron to treat COVID-19 patients.
On Friday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted emergency use authorization to Roche's COVID-19 at-home rapid test that can be used by people as young as 14.
CNH Industrial extended a three-day rally, adding 2.5% to hit a record high after on Thursday approving the spin-off of its truck-making business, Iveco.
British, Australian and Hong Kong markets were closed for holidays.