Malta Independent

European shares ease from eightmonth high


European shares eased from eight-month highs on Wednesday, weighed down by healthcare and mining stocks while investors looked past better-thanexpect­ed first-quarter economic growth in China.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index was down 0.2 percent by 0930 GMT after five straight days of gains. All country indexes were flat to higher except London FTSE 100.

China’s economy unexpected­ly steadied in the first quarter, defying expectatio­ns for a further slowdown, as industrial production jumped sharply and consumer demand showed signs of improvemen­t. Analysts said it was too early to call a sustainabl­e turnaround there, and further policy support would be needed to maintain momentum.

The positive China data spurred demand for auto stocks, the most among European sectors, as concerns over global growth eased. The data also pushed Germany’s 10-year government bond yield to a fourweek high.

Banks rallied 0.6 percent and drove a 0.3 percent gain in Italy’s bank-heavy. However, losses in basic resources and healthcare stocks outweighed.

Danone slipped 1 percent after the French food group’s firstquart­er sales slowed on weaker demand for infant formula products in China and a consumer boycott in Morocco. Its peer Nestle SA dropped about a percent ahead of its quarterly report on Thursday.

Also capping losses was the tech sector, helped by a climb in chip stocks and Mobile telecom equipment maker Ericsson.

Asian share markets pulled ahead on Wednesday as investors were relieved after a raft of Chinese data beat expectatio­ns in a sign Beijing’s policy stimulus may finally be gaining traction in the world’s second-largest economy.

Moves in Asian share markets were modest in part because they had already rallied hard since the start of the year. Japan’s Nikkei closed up 0.25 percent after hitting a five-month peak earlier in the day. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan gained 0.2 percent to near its highest since July. China blue chips rose slight to stay just below their best levels since March last year.

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