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01 Feb 2021 | 18:26

Europe close: Stocks start February on a positive note

(Sharecast News) - European shares started the month of February on a positive note even as the Reddit retail investor frenzy turned its attention to silver, with precious metals miners driving strong gains as a result. "The attention of markets has moved on from the excitement seen in certain names last week to silver, and with the liquidation of longs to pay for losses on the short-side now accomplished it looks like last week's drop was enough to tempt buyers back into the market," said IG chief market analyst Chris Beauchamp.

"Volatility has dropped from Friday but it remains at an elevated level, and last week's pullback still seems like a job half done when compared with the multi-week pullbacks this rally has experienced over the past year."

The pan-European Stoxx 600 index was ahead by 1.24% at 400.77, with shares of miners Fresnillo, Polymetal International, Boliden, Hochschild and Centamin all shining.

Glencore, BHP and Anglo-American were also higher as silver prices hit their highest levels since 2013, hitting $30 an ounce at one point. The metal has become the latest focus of a frenzied online movement by retail traders to push up values of assets that big fund managers had bet against.

Bourses across the Continent were also given impetus as data showed the recovery across the Eurozone's manufacturing sector continued in January, despite the introduction of fresh lockdown measures.

The final IHS Markit eurozone manufacturing purchasing managers' index for January was 54.8, down on December's figure of 55.2 yet a touch above the provisional estimate of 54.7.

Oil stocks lagged the market ahead of full year results later this week. BP announced the sale of a 20% stake in its Oman gas block program for $2.6bn as it continued its program of disposals to cut its debt pile towards its longer-term target of $35bn.

Shares in JD Sports jumped 5.92% after the company announced a conditional agreement to the purchase of Maryland based sportswear retailer DTLR for $495m, as it continues to boost its brand across the US.

Housebuilders were on the rise, with Barratt and Persimmon and Berkeley Group making strong gains.

Budget carrier Ryanair shares were slightly lower after the airline said it expects to lose close to €1bn euros in its current financial year.
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