European stocks kicked off the new quarter with gains on Thursday, as optimism around a new U.S. government spending plan and strong factory activity data out of the euro zone eclipsed concerns about another lockdown in France.
The panEuropean STOXX 600 index rose 0.5, hovering just 2 points below its alltime high. The benchmark ended the first quarter with a 7.7 rise its fourth straight quarter of gains.
The German DAX climbed 0.6 to hit a record high, while the UKs FTSE 100 also gained 0.6.
Despite slow vaccination programmes and a fresh pandemic wave hitting several countries, European markets have recovered almost all of their pandemicdriven losses on strong manufacturing activity and a bounceback in economylinked stocks such as banks and energy.
Data showed euro zone factory activity growth galloped at its fastest pace in the near 24year history of a leading business survey in March.
We remain optimistic on the recovery and believe current vaccine delays in the EU are unlikely to jeopardise the rebound in growth the supply of vaccines is set to improve significantly in 2Q3Q, analysts at Equita wrote in a note.
Helping global sentiment further, U.S. President Joe Biden unveiled a sweeping 2.3 trillion spending plan on Wednesday that includes investments in roads, railways, broadband, clean energy and semiconductor manufacture.
Chip stocks including those of ASML, ASMI, Infineon Technologies BE Semiconductor all rose between 1.2 and 4 after U.S. chipmaker…