European shares rise after massive selloff fuelled by Omicron variant

BT Group surges on Reliance takeover reports

  

European shares rose on Monday after their worst selloff in more than a year as investors awaited clues on whether the Omicron variant of coronavirus would hamper economic recoveries and monetary tightening plans by central banks.

The pan-European STOXX 600 gained 1.0%, recovering some of Friday's 3.7% slump triggered by concerns around the newly discovered variant.

While the variant was spotted in several countries across the globe, a South African doctor who was one of the first to suspect a different strain said that symptoms were so far mild and could be treated at home. 

"That news has reassured investors, but stocks, particularly in the travel sector, are going to remain volatile because of the disrupted routes, new restrictions, and overall uncertainty," said Susannah Streeter, senior investment and markets analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown.

To date, no death linked to Omicron has been reported, though further research was needed to assess its potential to escape protection against immunity induced by vaccines, the World Health Organisation said. 

Travel stocks led gains in the STOXX 600, with Wizz Air, Lufthansa, TUI Group  and British Airways-owner IAG ICAG.L all rising more than 3% after double-digit falls on Friday on fears of fresh travel restrictions.

Financial stocks added 1.7%, while oil stocks .SXEP advanced 1.9% as crude prices recovered on speculation that OPEC+ may pause an output increase in response to the spread of Omicron. O/R

Meanwhile, European Central Bank board member Isabel Schnabel reiterated the bank's monetary policy stance, saying inflation peaked in November and it would be premature to tighten policy. 

Despite clocking several record highs in November, the STOXX 600 is on course to post monthly losses of about 2% as a strong earnings season and easing fears around tighter monetary policy were outweighed by concerns around the new variant and fresh restrictions in Europe.

BT Group jumped 9.0% on reports that Indian oil-to-telecom conglomerate Reliance was considering an offer for the UK telecom firm. 

Vestas climbed 1.2% after saying almost all of its IT systems are back up and running again after a ransomware attack was reported at the world's largest wind turbine maker on November 19.

Auto stocks were weighed down by Faurecia's 6.3% drop after the car parts group trimmed its full-year guidance, citing a drop in European automotive production.

(Reporting by Anisha Sircar in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur and Shinjini Ganguli) ((Anisha.Sircar@thomsonreuters.com;))


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