European shares marked their strongest close in 10 months on Monday, with German shares hitting a record high as relief over long-awaited U.S. coronavirus relief, a Brexit trade deal and a vaccine program lifted spirits in thin holiday trade.
U.S. President Donald Trump on Sunday signed into law a $2.3 trillion US pandemic aid and government spending bill, causing some optimism over near-term economic prospects.
The launch of a cross-border European vaccination program on Sunday also fuelled hopes of a pandemic-free second half in 2021 and of a strong economic rebound.
Britain and the European Union signed a Brexit trade deal late on Thursday, preserving several trade provisions for both sides and limiting the scale of disruption resulting from the divorce.
The benchmark European stock index rose 0.7 per cent in a fourth straight day of gains, while German stocks ended 1.5 per cent higher at a record peak.
German food delivery firm Delivery Hero topped the STOXX 600 with a 9.1 per cent gain, ending at a record high after it said it will sell South Korean food delivery app Yogiyo as part of the conditions for regulatory approval of its takeover of top South Korean food delivery app owner Woowa Brothers.
Automobile makers were among the top boosts to the German index, given that the country is a major supplier of autos to the U.K. The striking of a trade deal appeared to have cleared several regulatory doubts over the future of the EU-U.K. auto supply chain.
‘A big sigh of relief’
“We can finally breathe a big sigh of relief and say that chaos over the stimulus bill is over,” said Hussein Sayed, chief market strategist at FXTM.
“A sell-off has been averted and this could provide one last boost to risk assets in the last four trading days of the year.”
However, many aspects of Britain’s future relationship with the EU remain to be hammered out, possibly over years..
Huge amounts of stimulus and vaccine optimism have seen the STOXX 600 recover nearly 43 per cent from its March lows, though it is on course to end the year about four per cent lower due to a severely damaging second wave of coronavirus infections.
Among other European bourses, France’s CAC 40 index and Spain’s IBEX ended 1.2 per cent and 0.5 per cent higher, respectively.
Dutch technology firm Prosus bottomed out the STOXX 600 in the wake of a Chinese probe into local technology majors, in one of whom Prosus holds a stake.
London markets were shut due to Boxing Day.