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05 Feb 2021 | 08:04

Europe open: Shares open higher in muted trade

(Sharecast News) - European stocks opened higher on Friday following gains on Wall Street overnight, although shares in Britain and Germany were off the pace on Covid concerns and weak economic data respectively. The STOXX 600 gained 0.4%% and was on track for a 3.8% rise over the last five days.

Germany's DAX index was flat after data showed orders for German-made goods fell more than expected in December, as restrictions to contain the Covid-19 pandemic dragged down demand from other euro zone countries.

London's FTSE 100 was in similar territory as investors digested reports the government was once again behind the curve on Covid policy and scrambling to secure hotel rooms ahead of a delayed announcement on quarantines.

France's CAC 40 gained as President Emmanuel Macron stated that a lockdown in France would be the 'last resort', despite the spread of new variants of covid-19 in the country.

Investors were also awaiting the US payrolls report later on Froday, along with the unemployment rate and average earnings.

"Analysts are expecting a recovery from December's 2020-ending contraction in the jobs market, with the addition of 85,000 jobs pencilled in following a strong ADP figure mid-week," said Campbell. "The unemployment rate, meanwhile, is set to hold steady at 6.7% for the 3rd consecutive month, but with average hourly earnings growth dropping from 0.8% to 0.3% month-on-month," said Spreadex analyst Connor Campbell.

In equity news, shares in Beazley surged after it posted an annual pre-tax loss that was smaller than expected. The Lloyd's of London insurer swung to a loss of $50.4m in the year to the end of December from a profit of $267.7m a year earlier as it was hit by $340m of losses from the pandemic, but this was better than consensus expectations for a $106.4m loss.

On the downside, Signature Aviation fell after Global Infrastructure Partners teamed up with rival bidders Blackstone and Microsoft founder Bill Gates to make a $4.73bn (£3.43bn) bid the company.

Sanofi gained 2.6% as the French drugmaker said it aimed to grow earnings per share this year after posting stronger-than-expected quarterly results.

BNP Paribas fell as charges linked to the pandemic ate into the lender's net profit in the fourth quarter.

(Michele Maatouk also contributed to this story)
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