(Reuters) - European shares gained for a fourth straight week on Friday as investors looked past near-term virus damage and hoped for a quicker economic revival next year, while Spanish lender BBVA gained after ending merger talks with Banco Sabadell.
The pan-European STOXX 600 ended 0.4% higher and added 0.93% for the week, with tech and banks leading gains, while energy stocks were the top gainers for the week on rising oil prices.
BBVA gained 4.2% and was among the top gainers on the benchmark index. Banco Sabadell shares fell 13%, as the merger failure is expected to add pressure on the lender, which was seen as the weaker link in the potential transaction.
The two banks had looked for a deal to create Spain’s second-biggest domestic bank.
“Investors have looked past the near-term risks and placed their bets on faster economic growth next year with the market turning more bullish even at the slightest of ease in restrictions coupled with expectations of more stimulus in case things go wrong,” ETX Capital analyst Michael Baker said.
The STOXX 600 index has gained 40% since a coronavirus-driven slump in March and was set to end its best month on record, but rising infections in some European countries have capped gains.
The number of infections in Germany surpassed the one million mark and the daily death toll hit a record high on Friday, while lawmakers announced plans to almost double the borrowing for next year to fight the pandemic.
A survey by the European Commission showed euro zone economic sentiment fell in November for the first time in seven months as a second COVID-19 wave struck the continent.
British mid-caps were the worst performers for the week and the only index among its European peers that recorded losses as the end-of-year deadline for a Brexit trade deal looms, while France’s CAC 40 and Italy’s FTSE MIB were the top gainers.
The European Union and Britain said there were still substantial differences over a trade deal with just five weeks left until the United Kingdom finally exits the EU’s orbit.
France’s benchmark CAC 40 index gained 0.8% as the country reported another drop in infections and hospitalisations.
British drugmaker AstraZeneca reversed losses to rise 0.3% as Britain and other countries pressed for a possible rollout even as experts raised questions about the results of its late-stage vaccine study.
Reporting by Shriya Ramakrishnan and Shashank Nayar in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty and Arun Koyyur
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