European Shares Trade Slightly Positive

European stocks traded slightly positive Wednesday amid continued hopes for robust economic recovery next year and as AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine received its first approval for emergency supply in the UK amid the massive vaccination drive across Europe.

Meanwhile, investors remain concerned following uncertainty about whether the U.S. Senate would approve a measure increasing the size of the stimulus checks to $2,000.

In the U.S., President Donald Trump continued demanding $2,000 COVID-19 relief checks, instead of $600, and the U.S. House of Representatives voted to approve the measure. However, in the Senate, the move was stalled as Republicans blocked a swift vote proposed by Democrats.

The investor sentiment also reflects the fact that Britian’s automatic access to the EU’s financial markets may come to an end on December 31 as the Brexit trade deal excludes any pact regarding financial market.

In Covid-19 news, the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency has approved AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine, co-developed by the University of Oxford, for emergency supply in the UK, with the first doses being released today. The vaccinations may begin early in the New Year.

Asian stocks ended mixed despite hopes of a robust economic recovery next year. China and Hong Kong shares traded higher, while Japanese and Australian shares closed lower.

In economic releases, UK house prices grew at a faster pace in December, data published by the Nationwide Building Society showed. House prices climbed 7.3 percent year-on-year in December, following November’s 6.5 percent increase.

As per flash data published by the statistical office INE, Spain’s consumer prices continued to decline at the end of 2020. Consumer prices decreased 0.5 percent year-on-year in December after easing 0.8 percent in November.

Further, Bulgaria’s producer prices declined 2.6 percent year-on-year in November, and Greece’s November producer prices fell 9 percent in November.

Austria’s producer prices dropped at a softer pace in November, down 1.4 percent year-on-year, figures from Statistics Austria showed.

The pan European Stoxx 600 traded up 0.55 points or 0.1 percent at 402.16.

France’s CAC 40 index was up 2 points or 0.03 percent at 5613, following a 0.4 percent rise on Tuesday.

Germany’s benchmark DAX was up 5 points, or 0.04 percent, at 13767, after losing 0.2 percent in the previous day.

U.K.’s FTSE 100 increased 10 points or 0.2 percent at 6612, extending 1.6 percent rise in the previous day.

In U.K., AstraZeneca shares are trading 0.9 percent higher after its Covid-19 vaccine received emergency approval in the country.

Banking shares are gaining momentum, with HSBC Holdings up 1.7 percent; Lloyds Banking Group up 1.9 percent, Barclays up 2.4 percent; and Standard Chartered up 2 percent.

Among others, Rolls-Royce increased 1.6 percent and Carnival gained 1.8 percent. Losers included Diageo with shares down 1 percent, Rio Tinto down 0.6 percent, and Anglo American down 0.7 percent.

On German corporate front, Munich RE shares were up 0.6 percent; Allianz up 0.4 percent; Deutsche Bank up 1 percent; and Thyssenkrupp up 2 percent.

Meanwhile, shares ofย  auto majors fell slightly – Volkswagen declined 0.7 percent and BMW fell 0.6 percent. Wirecard stock was down 2.3 percent.

In France, Societe Generale gained 0.7 percent, while Airbus declined 1 percent.

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