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STOXX 600 climbs over 1% on rate-cut optimism

by Staff GBAF Publications Ltd
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STOXX 600 climbs over 1% on rate-cut optimism

By Johann M Cherian and Ozan Ergenay

(Reuters) -European shares rose to over a week’s high on Friday, with major indexes that use the euro as the common currency trading in the green, as investors turned optimistic after the European Central Bank hinted that it could begin interest rate cuts as soon as June.

The pan-European STOXX 600 gained 1.1%, while the blue-chips index gained 1% as of 0850 GMT.

Stocks in major regional economies, such as Germany, France, Spain and Italy, gained more than 1% each.

“Obviously, with the ECBs comments yesterday, everyone’s assuming it is 100% guaranteed that a June rate cut is going to happen,” said Gene Salerno, chief investment officer at SG Kleinwort Hambros.

The basic resources index led sectoral gains, with its 2.8% rise, its fifth straight week in gains, tracking an uptick in base metals prices. The banking index was the worst performer for the week.

Salerno added that signs of economic stabilisation in the euro zone and trading partner China have helped gains in cyclical sectors such as resources.

After a broadly lacklustre week, the STOXX 600 is on course for a weekly gain of 0.7% after the ECB hinted that interest rates could be lowered, as early as June, while uncertainty remained if the regulator could kick off the easing cycle before the U.S. Federal Reserve.

Expectations for imminent rate cuts have also pushed the Euro to a five-month low.

Unchanged final March inflation readings from top economies in the eurozone, including Germany, France and Spain, further soothed sentiment.

Among top movers, Varta slumped 28.4% to a record low and was on course for its worst day since September 2022 after the German battery maker said its restructuring plans would fail to make it profitable by 2026.

Societe Generale gained 5% to top France’s CAC 40 index after the lender agreed to sell Société Générale Marocaine de Banques and La Marocaine Vie to Moroccan conglomerate Saham Group for 745 million euros ($797.45 million).

Thyssenkrupp rose 3.9% after the firm fleshed out details of a restructuring programme for its challenged steel division, with measures involving job cuts that cannot yet be quantified.

Zurich Insurance <ZURN.S> slid 3.6% to the bottom of the Swiss blue-chip index as the Swiss group traded ex-dividend, while Evotec rose 6.9% after Deutsche Bank raised the German biotech firm to “buy” from “hold”.

Later in the day, investors will focus on big bank earnings in the United States.

(Reporting by Johann M Cherian and Ozan Ergenay; Editing by Savio D’Souza and Sohini Goswami)