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STOXX 600 hits two-year high

written by Bella Palmer

The pan-European STOXX 600 ended 0.2% higher, gaining for the fourth day

Europe's benchmark stock index hit its highest in more than two years on Monday on strength in healthcare stocks, while French and German shares lost some steam after hitting record highs last week as economic concerns weighed on sentiment.

The pan-European STOXX 600 ended 0.2% higher, gaining for the fourth day. Trade volumes were light, with U.S. markets closed for a public holiday.

Healthcare jumped 1% to a near two-year high, led by AstraZeneca which climbed 3.2% after a combination of its blockbuster cancer drug Tagrisso with chemotherapy to treat a type of lung cancer was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Meanwhile, basic resources dropped 1% as copper prices declined after China held key rates on medium-term loans steady and markets focused on the country's ailing property market.

France's benchmark index was flat after the government reduced its 2024 GDP growth forecast to 1% from 1.4% as war in Ukraine and the Middle-East and a slowdown at top trading partners darkened the outlook.

The Bundesbank in a regular monthly report said Germany is likely in recession because of weak external demand, cautious consumers and stalling domestic investment. The benchmark DAX was 0.2% lower.

Economic uncertainty will create market volatility, but markets are forward looking and the expectations of declining inflation, and in time, dropping interest rates have provided a boost to stock markets, said Emma Wall at Hargreaves Lansdown.

The STOXX 600 notched a fourth consecutive weekly gain on Friday, driven by optimism around robust corporate earnings and hopes of imminent rate cuts by the European Central Bank.

Over the course of this week, investors will monitor final inflation data and flash PMI readings for the euro zone and Germany's fourth-quarter Gross Domestic Product to gauge Europe's economic status.


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