European shares rise on boost from energy, financials

Credit: REUTERS/Staff

By Khushi Singh

March 8 (Reuters) - European shares rose on Friday and wereon track for weekly gains,led by strength in financial and energy shares, while investors waited for key economic data from the eurozone and the United States.

The pan-European STOXX 600 .STOXX was up 0.2% by 9:27 GMT, notching fresh record highs. The benchmark index also looks set for its seventh straight week of gains.

Financial services .SXFPindex climbed 1.1% and topped sectoral gains, led by a 4.2% rise in UBS UBSG.S after the bank said it would close 85 branches in Switzerland by 2025 as part of its plan to cut costs at the combined business.

Oil and gas .SXEPshares added 0.9% as crude prices rose on demand from the world's biggest consumers - the United States and China. O/R

On the data front, the eurozone's revised Q4 GDP numbers are due at 1000 GMT, with the focus also on the February U.S. nonfarm payrolls data for more insights into the economy's resilience amid renewed hopes of rate cuts.

Traders are also betting that policy easing may begin in June after Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell hinted this week that the central bank was not too far from gaining the confidence it needs in falling inflation to begin cutting interest rates.

In Europe, too, June is touted as the month when the rate cut cycle may start after the ECB trimmed its forecasts for inflation in Thursday's monetary policy meeting.

"Once rates start to be cut, the pressure is on to keep doing it, whereas central banks don't want to act in haste," says Dan Coatsworth, investment analyst at AJ Bell.

Meanwhile, European Central Bank policymaker Francois Villeroy de Galhau said the interest rates will be lowered this spring, "from April until June 21," further boosting market sentiment.

In corporate updates, Rubis' RUBF.PA shares rose 7.4% following the French liquid products distributor's better-than-expected annual results.

DS Smith SMDS.Lshares jumped 7.6% after British packaging firm Mondi MNDI.Loffered to buy the company for 5.14 billion pounds. Mondi was down 1.3%.

Shares in HelloFresh HFGG.DE tumbled 47.7% after the German meal-kit maker announced a 2024 forecast well below expectations and scrapped its mid-term targets.

(Reporting by Khushi Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Sonia Cheema and Anil D'Silva)

((Khushi.Singh@thomsonreuters.com;))

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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