European markets advance, tracking global gains – CNBC

LONDON — European stocks climbed on Thursday, tracking gains overnight in the Asia-Pacific markets following a rise in the U.S. stock futures.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 gained 0.4% by late morning trade, with health care stocks adding 1.1% to lead gains while the insurance sector slid 0.8%.

The upward momentum for European stocks comes after a similarly upbeat session in Asia-Pacific overnight, boosted by U.S. trading; Asian stocks mostly rose on Thursday after the S&P 500 nudged higher to a record closing high on Wednesday.

U.S. stock futures also ticked higher in premarket trade, suggesting Wall Street could extend gains that have propelled the S&P 500 to record levels this week.

Investors appeared placated during Wednesday’s session by the Fed’s latest meeting minutes, which showed that officials plan to keep the pace of asset purchases the same for some time, as the central bank works to support stable prices and maximum employment.

Meanwhile, President Joe Biden spoke on Wednesday from Washington about his administration’s $2 trillion infrastructure plan that includes a corporate tax rate hike to 28%, and noted that he is willing to negotiate on the proposed tax increase.

European markets will be boosted by the announcements from the U.K. and European medicines regulators on Wednesday regarding the AstraZeneca/University of Oxford Covid vaccine.

Both regulators said that while a link between the vaccine and very rare blood clotting disorders was possible, the benefits of getting the shot still outweigh its risks. The U.K. said it would give a different Covid vaccine to under-30s in Britain out of caution.

UBS holds its annual general meeting on Thursday, while on the data front, German industrial orders rose in February on the back of strong domestic demand, data from the Federal Statistics Office showed.

There were few significant share price moves during morning deals. Johnson Matthey climbed 3.5% after the British chemicals company posted a promising 2021 outlook, while at the bottom of the European blue chip index, British insurer Direct Line Group slid 4.6%.

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