German shares hit record highs as easing coronavirus fears lift Europe

(Reuters) - German shares hit a record high on Tuesday, leading European stocks to a record too amid hopes the coronavirus outbreak may plateau soon and that the impact on the global economy might not be significant as feared.

Slideshow ( 2 images )

Deutsche Telekom DTEGn.DE jumped nearly 4%, driving the rally in Frankfurt's DAX .GDAXI, after the telecom giant's T-Mobile TMUS.O and wireless carrier Sprint S.N got U.S. approval for a merger initially valued at $26 billion.

Shares in Nordic network equipment makers Nokia NOKIA.HE and Ericsson ERICb.ST also rallied on news of the U.S. approval, helping Europe's technology index .SX8P end at its highest in more than 18 years.

The DAX closed up 1% at 13,627.84 with gains across the board. The pan-European STOXX 600 index .STOXX, which had its highest opening on Tuesday, powered 0.9% higher during the day to set a new closing best.

Globally, sentiment was lifted by the slowing number of new coronavirus cases in China. A top Chinese health adviser’s suggestion that the epidemic may plateau in the next few weeks and be over by April further fuelled risk appetite, even as the death toll climbed above 1,000.

Markets have seen several volatile weeks following the news of the virus outbreak as investors worried about the extent of economic disruption.

But the rally feels a little premature, said Craig Erlam, a senior market analyst at Oanda.

“It’s more reflective of investors’ desire to not miss out on the latest rally, which leaves markets vulnerable to any negative news. Given how rapidly this virus has spread I would say there is more risk for bad news,” he said.

Travel company TUI TUIT.L led gains on the STOXX 600, rising 13%, after it raised the lower end of its annual earnings outlook, citing strong holiday demand.

Overall, the travel and leisure sector .SXTP rose 1.9%. Worries over travel disruptions caused by the virus had led to a heavy sell-off in the sector over the past few weeks.

Other China-exposed firms such as chipmaker ASML ASML.AS and Hong Kong-focused bank HSBC HSBA.L were among the companies giving the STOXX 600 index the biggest boost.

Basic resources stocks .SXPP rose 1.7% on an uptick in iron ore and base metal prices while energy stocks .SXEP tracked a rebound in oil prices from 13-month lows.

But capping gains were shares of NMC Health NMC.L, which fell 16% after buyout firm KKR KKR.N said it did not intend to make an offer for the troubled healthcare company. NMC had shot up 24% on Monday after it revealed KKR's approach.

Reporting by Ambar Warrick in Bengaluru; Editing by Bernard Orr, Arun Koyyur and David Clarke