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14 Jan 2021 | 16:59

Europe close: Travel and Technology names pace gains

(Sharecast News) - European shares were mostly higher on Thursday driven by hopes of a potentially increased US stimulus package from incoming US President Joe Biden. The pan-European STOXX 600 index rose 0.72%, with Travel&Leisure names leading the gainers after Norwegian Air announced its decision to dicth its long-hauk routes, in effect binning an aggressive growth strategy that had dragged on the entire sector.

Further aiding the sector, overnight Johnson&Johnson published early stage clinical trial data for its Covid-19 vaccine which validated its safety and revealed a "promising" immune response among the volunteers who were given it.

The Stoxx 600 sector gauge for Travel&Leisure notched up a gain of 1.92% while that for Technology jumped 1.87% on the back of advance in shares of chipmakers.

Germany's DAX was up 0.35% to 13,988.7 after preliminary data showed the economy shrank by a smaller-than-expected 5% in 2020, reflecting government actions to limit the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Italy's FTSE MIB slipped 0.47% to 22,637.72 after former premier Matteo Renzi pulled his small party out of government, stripping the ruling coalition of its parliamentary majority and triggering yet another Italian political crisis.

Reports overnight suggested Biden could spend $2trn on coronavirus relief, more than expected. He is scheduled to unveil his plans on Thursday.

Boosting European chipmakers was news that Taiwan's TSMC posted a record high quarterly profit thanks to demand for devices requiring high-end chips. BE Semiconductors rose 7%, while ASMI and ASML were both higher.

French carmaker PSA rose 2% after reporting sales in Europe recovered in the second half of 2020 and were back to growth in the fourth quarter. Shares in Fiat Chrysler, which is to merge with PSA, gained 3%.

Carrefour fell 2.5% after French government ministers raised concerns about its €16bn takeover by Canadian convenience-store operator Couche-Tard.
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