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European shares end strongly on upbeat U.S. data

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© Reuters. The German share price index DAX graph is pictured at the stock exchange in Frankfurt, Germany, May 26, 2022. REUTERS/Staff

By Susan Mathew

(Reuters) -European shares marked their best week since mid-March, ending Friday on a strong note as upbeat U.S. data and easing bets about aggressive interest rate hikes lifted sentiment.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index rose for a third straight session, closing up 1.5%, taking weekly gains to 3%. Germany’s DAX ended at an over one-month high, up 1.6%.

Technology stocks led gains among sectors, up 3.3%, while industrials and luxury stocks were among the biggest boosts to the STOXX 600.

A rally on Wall Street on some strong retail and technology earnings and upbeat consumer spending data for April, helped calm some worries about slowing economic growth that had roiled markets. Data also showed U.S. inflation slowed last month. [.N]

Banks shone this week, up 6% as major central banks stayed on course to hike interest rates.

Central banks have adopted a tightening stance to fight surging inflation, leaving investors worried about a likely hit to economic growth, but equity markets found some respite on signs monetary policy may not be more aggressive than indicated.

Minutes of the U.S. Federal Reserve’s early May meeting showed the bank could pause after 50 basis points hikes in the next two months.

“Markets feel a little happier that they know where things are going to go, and also that there’s going to be a real focus from central banks to make sure that they do take a measured approach … to create this soft landing to prevent economies from going into recession,” said Danni Hewson, financial analyst at AJ Bell.

Investors are watching for any updates from the European Central Bank, which is expected to begin its hiking cycle in July. Chief Christine Lagarde signalled rates, currently at -0.5%, will be at 0% or above by September.

Worries about the Russia-Ukraine war further fuelling energy prices, and concerns about demand from China amid COVID-19 curbs, have also weighed on stocks recently.

The STOXX 600 is on track to end May lower, leaving March as the only month it rose this year.

London’s blue-chip FTSE 100 underperformed on Friday as energy stocks tracked oil prices lower, and as utilities worried about a potential windfall tax. (L)

LSL Property Services slipped 4.2% after it said surging inflation would hit annual profit.

European shares end strongly on upbeat U.S. data

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