(C) Reuters. The German share price index DAX graph is pictured at the stock exchange in Frankfurt, Germany, July 1, 2021. REUTERS/Staff
By Shreyashi Sanyal and Ambar Warrick
(Reuters) – European shares ended slightly higher on Friday on a boost from chipmakers, although gains were capped by weak bank stocks and growing concerns over the Delta variant of the coronavirus.
The pan-European STOXX 600 index rose 0.3% to close at 456.81 points, with technology stocks rising 1.1%.
Semiconductor maker ASML Holding (NASDAQ:ASML) NV rose 1.4% after Micron Technology Inc (NASDAQ:MU) said it plans to start using ASML EUV machines in production in 2024, while ASM International (OTC:ASMIY) NV rose nearly 2.5% as it forecast higher order intake in the second quarter.
Bank stocks fell 1.3% and were the worst performers, as growing concerns over the new, highly infectious COVID-19 variant kept investors firmly in fixed income and brought down yields. [GVD/EUR]
Strong U.S. payrolls data also did little to push up borrowing rates. The bank sector lagged its peers for the week with a 2.4% loss.
Still, it is the best performing euro zone sector so far this year, as rising inflation expectations had pushed borrowing costs higher earlier in the year.
Graphic: European bank stocks track bond yields – https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/mkt/jznpnylnmvl/EU%20Banks%20YTD.PNG
The STOXX 600 ended the week slightly lower as investors feared that the new variant could dent an ongoing economic recovery.
Data showed producer prices in the bloc accelerated more than expected in May on a surge in energy prices.
“Inflation is still clients’ most popular risk to discuss at global level, but considering the European area’s delayed reopening, subdued wage growth and limited fiscal stimulus, the evolution of the Delta variant is a more pressing issue,” Davide Oneglia, senior economist at TS Lombard wrote in a note.
Travel and leisure rose 1.6%, but lost 1.4% through the week as virus-related curbs on the UK hit sentiment.
Among other stocks, France’s SMCP fell 0.4%, after the company along with Zara owner Inditex (MC:ITX) were the subject of an investigation as they are suspected of concealing “crimes against humanity” in China’s Xinjiang region, according to a judicial source.
Volkswagen AG (OTC:VWAGY) rose 0.2% after its U.S. arm said it sold more than 211,000 cars in the first half of 2021, its highest level for the period in nearly 50 years.
Shares in Denmark’s Ambu tumbled 9.2% to the bottom of the STOXX 600 after the single-use medical devices maker cut its profit outlook.
Chipmakers lift European shares, banks cap gains
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