European shares propped up by commodities, Powell speech in focus

The pan-European STOXX 600 closed 0.3 per cent higher after flitting between gains through the session, with mining stocks rising 1.3 per cent as base metal prices appeared to have stabilised from a recent plunge. — Reuters pic
The pan-European STOXX 600 closed 0.3 per cent higher after flitting between gains through the session, with mining stocks rising 1.3 per cent as base metal prices appeared to have stabilised from a recent plunge. — Reuters pic

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FRANKFURT, June 23 ― European shares settled higher yesterday as mining and energy stocks benefited from stable commodity prices, while investors hunkered down ahead of a speech by US Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell.

The pan-European STOXX 600 closed 0.3 per cent higher after flitting between gains through the session, with mining stocks rising 1.3 per cent as base metal prices appeared to have stabilized from a recent plunge.

Chemical stocks rose 1.1 per cent to a record high, as investors favoured sectors most likely to benefit from an economic recovery this year.

Irish stocks were the best performers in the region, surging 1.6 per cent after Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party named Jeffrey Donaldson as its new leader ― its third leader in a matter of weeks amid crucial post-Brexit talks.

Irish stocks had tumbled last week after Donaldson's predecessor, Edwin Poots, resigned after just three weeks on the job.

Among broader markets, economically sensitive sectors including banks and industrials rose amid signals that the Fed could soon begin raising interest rates.

The focus this week will be on a slew of Fed speakers, beginning with Chair Jerome Powell, who is due to speak before the US Congress yesterday at 1800 GMT.

“If Powell is among the members believing that monetary policy normalisation should start in the months to come, equities and other risk-linked assets are likely to pull back again,” said Charalambos Pissouros, senior market analyst at JFD Group.

After logging its worst week in four months on Friday, the pan-European STOXX 600 was helped by encouraging comments from European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde on economic growth.

Europe's volatility index was down at 17.77 after spiking to a one-month high of 22.99 on Monday.

Oil and gas stocks rose 0.9 per cent as oil prices recovered from recent losses, while real estate stocks were also among the top gainers.

Travel and leisure stocks rose 0.5 per cent after British Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the country was working on easing travel restrictions for fully vaccinated people.

Among individual movers, Irish building insulation maker Kingspan Group topped the STOXX 600 after it forecast strong sales for the first half of 2021.

French healthcare group Sanofi fell 0.6 per cent even as it said the company and its US partner Translate Bio had started a Phase I clinical trial evaluating an mRNA-based investigational vaccine against seasonal influenza. ― Reuters

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