LONDON — European markets advanced on Thursday, kicking off the second half of 2021 on a positive note as investors anticipate the continent’s economic recovery.
The pan-European Stoxx 600 climbed 0.7% by mid-morning, with travel and leisure stocks adding 2% to lead gains as all sectors and major bourses traded in positive territory.
The European blue chip index closed out its fifth straight positive month on Wednesday, and started the day up 13.49% year-to-date.
The optimism in Europe diverges from the overnight trend in Asia-Pacific, where markets pulled back as a private survey showed Chinese factory activity growth slowing in June. Asian markets are also being weighed down by concerns about a rise in coronavirus infections and fresh lockdowns in the region.
Global investors will have an eye on the latest weekly jobless claims data out of the U.S. at 1:30 p.m. London time on Thursday, with economists polled by Dow Jones expecting initial unemployment claims to have totaled 390,000 last week.
This comes ahead of Friday’s closely-watched jobs report from the Labor Department. A Dow Jones survey puts consensus expectations at 683,000 new jobs added in June.
Back in Europe, euro zone manufacturing activity grew at its fastest pace on record in June, according to IHS Markit’s final manufacturing PMI (purchasing managers’ index) on Thursday. The reading of 63.4 was up from an initial 63.1 “flash” estimate, and the sharpest incline since the survey began in 1997.
U.K. factories also rode the recovery, though the PMI reading dipped to 63.9 from a record high 65.6 in May. Inflation pressures were also palpable as supply chain challenges cause by the pandemic sent input costs soaring.
In corporate news, Reuters has reported, citing three sources, that Credit Suisse is considering a reversal of the regional distribution of its private banking division, in favor of a centralized management structure that will enable the scandal-ridden lender to maintain tighter controls on its operations.
Meanwhile Renault on Wednesday revealed ambitious plans for its electric vehicles, incorporating affordable electric versions of some of its classic small cars as the French automaker looks to keep pace with Volkswagen in the European EV space.
Stocks on the move
In terms of individual share price action, Associated British Foods climbed more than 5% after raising its flagship retail chain Primark’s full-year outlook.
At the bottom of the European blue chip index, Luxembourgish real estate company Grand City Properties fell 3.3% after a dividend announcement.
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