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U.S. Markets

Euro zone shares supported by recovery plan, banks jump

(Reuters) - Euro zone stocks were buoyed on Wednesday by a 750-billion-euro ($824 billion) plan to prop up EU economies hammered by the coronavirus crisis, but falls for healthcare and technology stocks weighed on broader European markets.

FILE PHOTO: The German share price index DAX graph is pictured at the stock exchange in Frankfurt, Germany, May 26, 2020. REUTERS/Staff

The euro zone equities index .STOXXE finished 1.1% higher after jumping as much as 1.6%, while the pan-European STOXX 600 .STOXX closed up 0.2%.

Under the proposal, the European Commission would borrow the funds from the market and then disburse two-thirds in grants and the rest in loans, with much of the money going to Italy and Spain, the worst affected by the pandemic.

Spain's banking-heavy IBEX .IBEX jumped 2.4%, with Banco Santander SA SAN.MC and BBVA BBVA.MC rising 4.9% and 3.4% respectively.

Euro zone banks .SX7E climbed 4.8%, with French lenders BNP Paribas SA BNPP.PA and Societe Generale SA SOGN.PA leading gains. Italy's banking index .FTIT8300 rose 2.6%.

“The size of the market reaction is relatively modest if you compare it to the plan itself, but that is because there were quite some expectations in the market,” said Elwin de Groot, head of macro strategy at Rabobank.

“We really have to see this is a reaction to the size of the programme being bigger and the European Commission not being deterred from the opposition that is visible in some member states.”

A Franco-German proposal for 500 billion euros in grants last week faced some resistance from more frugal northern nations, which wanted only loans.

Aside from banks, other hard-hit sectors including travel and leisure .SXTP and automakers .SXAP rallied.

Renault RENA.PA jumped 17.5% after the French carmaker and Nissan Motor Co 7201.T doubled down on a plan to cooperate on production to save costs and salvage their troubled alliance.

Easing of lockdowns in several European countries and improving economic data have spurred buying in growth-exposed cyclical sectors in recent weeks, putting European stocks on course for a 2.8% gain in May.

“European investors are really focusing on the reopening and that’s gathering some momentum,” said Ian Williams, strategist at Peel Hunt.

“With the cyclicals, the most extreme risks seem to have been priced in and people are looking for some cheaper opportunities.”

But the healthcare .SXDP and technology sectors .SX8P, which have been resilient during the coronavirus crisis, dropped 2.5% and 1.4% respectively.

Also keeping investors on edge are protests in Hong Kong over new national security laws proposed by Beijing and U.S. President Donald Trump’s warning of a strong response to China’s move.

Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Alison Williams and Mark Potter

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