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European Markets End Sharply Higher After U.S. Senate Agrees On Stimulus Deal

European markets suffered a setback after a positive start on Wednesday, but ended the session sharply higher as stocks rebounded in late afternoon trades on news that U.S. Senate leaders and the White House have reached an agreement on a $2 trillion stimulus bill.

The bill, described as a "war-time level of investment" by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ken., will pave the way for providing financial assistance to individuals and companies amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The bill is expected to be passed later in the day. However, the stimulus package would still need to be approved by the Democrat-controlled House before it moves to President Donald Trump's desk.

The pan European Stoxx 600 ended up 3.09%. Among the major indices in Europe, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 surged up 4.45%, France's CAC 40 climbed up 4.47% and Germany's DAX climbed up 1.79%, while Switzerland's SMI ended stronger by 2.93%.

Among other markets in Europe, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Russia, Spain and Sweden ended sharply higher.

Austria, Poland and Turkey closed weak.

In France, Safran soared nearly 19%. Societe Generale gained about 11.5% and Atos ended nearly 10.5% up. Saint Gobain, Vinci, BNP Paribas, Total, Worldline SA, Airbus Group, Louis Vuitton, L'Oreal and STMicroElectronics gained 6 to 8%.

Michelin, Kering, Credit Agricole, Publicis Groupe, ArcelorMittal and Peugeot also rose sharply.

In the German market, MTU Aero shares gained nearly 14%. Infineon surged up more than 9%, while Wirecard and Adidas both ended stronger by about 8.4%.

E.ON, Volkswagen, RWE, Merck, Deutsche Bank, Covestro, Allianz and BMW gained 2 to 7%.

In the U.K. market, M&G Plc shares skyrocketed 19%. JD Sports Fashion and Melrose gained 18.8% and 18.4%, respectively. Associated British Foods, Persimmon, Ferguson, Rolls-Royce Holdings, BT Group, EasyJet, Whitbread, Legal & General, Intercontinental, Royal Bank and Phoenix Group Holdings gained 10 to 14%.

Rentokil Initial plunged sharply after the company withdrew its fiscal 2020 guidance due to the impact of coronavirus outbreak.

Swiss bank stock Credit Suisse rose sharply after the lender said that profitability in the first quarter of this financial year has so far continued the strong year-on-year improvement trend, despite the virus pandemic and volatile market environment.

In economic releases, German business sentiment logged its steepest fall ever recorded since German reunification, as the spread of coronavirus weighed on economic activity, final survey data from ifo Institute showed.

The business confidence index fell to 86.1 in March from 96.0 in February. This was the biggest fall since German reunification and reached its lowest level since July 2009. The preliminary reading for March was 87.7.

U.K. consumer prices advanced 1.7% from last year in February, as expected, after gaining 1.8% in January, data from the Office for National Statistics showed.

British retailers reported a moderate fall in sales in March but sales are expected to plunge next month, according to a survey from the Confederation of British Industry, released Wednesday.

The retail sales balance fell to -3% from +1% in February, the Distributive Trends Survey showed.

In Switzerland, the central bank introduced a COVID-19 refinancing facility to support liquidity to offset the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak.

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