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Optimism continues into new year as European stocks advance

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Optimism continues into new year as European stocks advance

European stocks rose on Monday, with investors bidding up markets in the first trading of the year on the hope that an uneven rollout of vaccines will nonetheless get economies back on their feet.

Down 4% for all of 2020, the Stoxx Europe 600
SXXP,
+1.64%

rose 1.3%.

The U.K. FTSE 100
UKX,
+2.84%

surged 2.5%, and the German DAX
DAX,
+1.28%

and French CAC 40
PX1,
+1.70%

also gained.

U.S. stock futures
ES00,
+0.55%

rose, following a year in which the major American benchmarks produced strong gains. The S&P 500
SPX,
+0.64%

rose 16% in 2020 and gained nearly 50% over two years.

“There is still plenty of scope for the global economy to do better than consensus forecasts. Strong household savings will finance pent-up demand and most countries are going to resist any temptation for premature tightening of either fiscal or monetary policy,” said Kit Juckes, head of currency strategy at Société Générale.

The news on the coronavirus front continues to get worse in the U.S. and the U.K. Hospitalizations in the U.S. reached a record 125,544 on Sunday, according to the COVID-19 tracking project. The U.S. is millions behind target in its vaccination schedule, and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo threatened fines for giving vaccines beyond recommended groups, even as these inoculations expire.

In the U.K., drug company AstraZeneca
AZN,
+2.87%

rose 1.8% on the first day of the rollout of its vaccine, as it also sold the rights for a hypertension drug for $400 million to German pharmaceutical company Cheplapharm Arzneimittel. Pointing to a likely toughening of rules on mobility, health secretary Matt Hancock said that the “old tier system is no longer strong enough,” as he also said he was fearful of a strain identified in South Africa.

Monday also sees the release of manufacturing data. The Caixin China manufacturing purchasing managers index fell to 53 from 54.9, while the eurozone index rose to 55.2 from 53.8. Any reading above 50 indicates improving conditions.

Politics also will be in the spotlight ahead of Tuesday’s Senate races in Georgia. If Democrats sweep both, they will get control of the upper chamber, and polling suggests a tight race in the historically Republican state.

Shares of U.K. gaming company Entain
ENT,
+28.36%

jumped 27% to 1,429 pence, after rejecting the proposed 1,383 pence per share bid from MGM Resorts
MGM,
+1.03%

that valued the company at £8.09 billion. Entain, the owner of brands including Ladbrokes, said the proposal significantly undervalues the company and its prospects. Entain also asked for “additional information in respect of the strategic rationale for a combination of the two companies.”

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