European stocks post their best week since November 2020

The German share price index DAX graph is pictured at the stock exchange in Frankfurt, Germany, March 17, 2022. REUTERS/Staff
  • Biden, Xi talk on Russia-Ukraine
  • Tech leads gains
  • Russia pays interest due on two dollar bonds
  • STOXX 600 rises 0.9%

March 18 (Reuters) - European shares rose on Friday adding to the strong gains earlier this week, as investors focussed on Russia-Ukraine peace negotiations and digested the talks between U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index (.STOXX) closed 0.9% higher with technology stocks (.SX8P), leading the gains.

The benchmark index was headed for its best weekly performance since November 2020 on optimism that peace would be negotiated in the Ukraine conflict that has rattled global markets.

"It's been a weird week because although we still got everything going on in Ukraine, we've also been sort of pulled back to the normal hustle and bustle and investors do like normality," said Danni Hewson, financial analyst at AJ Bell.

U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping spoke on a video call on Friday about Russia's invasion of Ukraine, and Chinese media said Xi underlined that such conflicts are in no-one's interests. read more

Aiding sentiment, Russia paid $117 million in interest due on two sovereign dollar bonds, easing doubts about its ability to honour external debt after harsh sanctions imposed by the West. read more

"In European markets, we're very close to the levels we're at before the war. We're very far from pricing a negative scenario here," said Alexandre Deruaz, head of portfolio management at Unigestion.

"The impact on the growth cycle is coming from oil. We've passed the point of maximum price in the short term for oil. So everybody is recognising that inflation is going through the roof, but at some point it will have a lesser impact."

Crude prices hit as much as $139 a barrel last week on concerns about Western sanctions on Russia, a major commodities exporter, raising concerns about soaring inflation.

They retreated from those levels and were trading around $106 a barrel on Friday, pushing down energy stocks (.SXEP) by 0.8%.

Britain's Vodafone (VOD.L) rose 1.3% after Reuters reported that global infrastructure funds have approached the telecom giant to invest in its $16 billion mast company Vantage Towers (VTWRn.DE). The latter's stock gained 10.8%. read more

German real estate giant Vonovia (VNAn.DE) slipped 3.3% even as it said it was on course for "significant growth" after a record year and the acquisition of smaller rival Deutsche Wohnen in 2021.

Reporting by Sruthi Shankar and Bansari Mayur Kamdar in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D'Silva, Aditya Soni and Jonathan Oatis

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