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20 Jan 2021 | 11:28

Europe midday: Shares gain on US stimulus optimism

(Sharecast News) - European stocks were still higher on Wednesday as investors awaited the inauguration of Joe Biden as the next US President and were cheered by prospects of a large stimulus package for the American economy. The pan-European STOXX 600 index extended morning gains and was up 0.55% by lunchtime. Italy's FTSE MIB was also up after Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte won a confidence vote in the upper house Senate on Tuesday, allowing him to remain in office after a junior partner quit his coalition last week.

US Dow Jones futures were up 53 points. Treasury Secretary nominee Janet Yellen overnight called for big fiscal spending to kick-start help the pandemic-stricken economy.

Luxury stocks were in favour after Richemont posted a 5% increase in quarterly sales, led by strong growth at its jewellery brands in Asia Pacific and the Middle East. The stock rose 4.8% in the morning, but settled back for a 1.94% gain.

Education publisher Pearson led the risers, with shares in the company up 7.39% as it said sales and profit for the full year were in line with expectations despite the additional impact of Covid-19 in the fourth quarter.

Britain's Burberry jumped were up 1.8% after an initial morning surge as the high-end fashion retailer released a positive earnings update, although it warned of a Brexit hit on sales to non-EU customers after a VAT refund scheme ended at the start of January.

Germany's Hugo Boss added 4.6% after Mike Ashley-led Frasers said it boosted its stake in the company.

Shares in Nordic telecom operator Telia rose 3.89% as the firm reported better-than-anticipated operational cash flow in 2020.

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