Defensive Stocks and ‘Santa Rally’ Give European Shares a Boost

On Tuesday, European shares climbed to a five-week high, as they took some heart from the record highs that Wall Street reached overnight. However, Omicron concerns remained, as France tightened curbs and coronavirus cases surged in Britain and Spain. There was a 0.6% increase in the pan-European STOXX 600 index after it had increased by 0.6% in the last session, bringing it to more than a one-month high. According to analysts, risk appetite is still strong at the end of the year, even though worries persist about the Omicron variant of the coronavirus affecting a global economy. It is already struggling with soaring prices, supply bottlenecks, and slowing growth. 

In the final week of 2021, it seems that the STOXX 600 is heading towards its second consecutive session of gains after it has already risen by 2.6% so far in December, which puts it on track for its best month after August. Market experts said that keeping rich valuations in mind after a solid bull run during the year, it is quite realistic to expect that the Santa Rally would reach a higher bar. Gains were seen in defensive stocks, such as industrials and healthcare and almost all sectors were trading in positive territory. 

There was a 0.8% increase in healthcare stocks, which brought them to their highest value in three months. They were now moving closer to their biggest gain in two days in more than a week. This year, the sector has gone up by 25% and it has managed to outperform the 22% of the benchmark so far. Spain is experiencing an unprecedented increase in coronavirus cases because of the new Omicron variant as on Monday, they had reached 1,000 cases per 100,000 people for the first time. Even though no new restrictions were imposed in England before the end of the year, the French government did say that it would tighten its COVID-19 measures. 


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However, they did say that no curfew would be imposed for New Year’s Eve. There was a 0.6% increase in the blue-chip CAC 40 in early trading. Market experts added that the rapid increase in the Omicron cases could dampen, if not completely derail, the decision of the central banks to tighten policy in the next year. There was a 4.4% increase in the shares of Alerian Clean Energy in Italy due to reports that its controlling family was considering selling a stake in the renewable energy operator of about 43% for a value of about 800 million euros. 

There was also a 0.6% increase in Telecom Italia after an Italian ministry announced that it would be using a proposal that a consortium had presented, which includes the firm as a blueprint in the cloud tender that it is planning to introduce in the first week of the next year. Clariant, the Swiss specialty chemical maker, announced that it would be purchasing assets from BASF, its German competitor in North America, in a deal valued at $60 million that will help it in growing its sustainable businesses. Clariant and BASF shares increased by 0.6% and 1.0% respectively. 


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