By Barbara Kollmeyer
European stocks moved higher on Tuesday, in holiday-thinned markets inspired by a prior-day rally on Wall Street and continued optimism over the latest wave of coronavirus infections.
The Stoxx Europe 600 index /zigman2/quotes/210599654/delayed XX:SXXP +0.34% rose 0.5% to 488.09, putting it that much closer to a record high, following a 0.6% gain on Monday. The last record reached for the Stoxx 600 was Nov. 17 when it hit 489.95. The German DAX /zigman2/quotes/210597999/delayed DX:DAX -0.21% rose 0.7% and the French CAC 40 /zigman2/quotes/210597958/delayed FR:PX1 +0.94% gained 0.5%, while London remained closed for an extended Christmas break.
Most markets will see a shortened day of trading on Friday, with German trade closing early on Thursday and remaining shut on Friday. U.S. markets will see normal market hours all week.
The optimism came as COVID-19 infections continue to rip across Europe and the world. Global infections reached a record of 1.44 million on Monday . Data from Spain’s health ministry showed that from Christmas Eve to Monday, the country’s 14-day incidence per 100,000 inhabitants jumped from 911 to 1,206. That’s more than 200,000 infections, an unprecedented surge .
But investors are looking past infections now largely driven by the omicron coronavirus variant, confident economies can push past the variant that emerged late last month. Data from Spain showed retail sales surging sharply in November, though that was before the omicron variant began causing a surge in cases and some restrictions were imposed.
The S&P 500 /zigman2/quotes/210599714/realtime SPX -1.04% climbed to its 69th record close of the year on Monday as the past week of trading for 2021 winds down. U.S. stock futures /zigman2/quotes/209948968/delayed ES00 -0.04% pointed to fresh gains for Wall Street later.
A strong showing by U.S. chip stocks was reflected in European trade Tuesday, with heavily weighted shares of ASML Holding /zigman2/quotes/210293876/composite ASML -2.43% /zigman2/quotes/206208657/delayed NL:ASML +0.71% up 0.8% and ASM International /zigman2/quotes/201180544/delayed NL:ASM +1.50% up 1.7%.
Pharmaceutical companies were also rising, with Roche /zigman2/quotes/206324342/delayed CH:ROG +3.10% and Novo Nordisk /zigman2/quotes/203484366/composite NVO +3.36% /zigman2/quotes/207193277/delayed DK:NOVO.B +3.91% each up 1%.