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European Stocks Close On Firm Note

After struggling for direction till around mid afternoon, European stocks rallied in the final hour and ended on a firm note on Wednesday as traders continued to bet on hopes about growth despite the surge in coronavirus cases in several countries.

The volume of business was thin due to upcoming Christmas holidays.

Encouraging economic data from the U.S. and the recent announcement from Moderna Inc about the effectiveness of a booster dose of its Covid-19 vaccine helped lift sentiment.

AstraZeneca said on Tuesday that it has begun work, alongside Oxford University, on an omicron-specific vaccine.

Investors also reacted to news about the British government pledging £1 billion ($1.3 billion) to businesses hit by the new Covid-19 variant, and U.S. President Joe Biden's remarks that it is still possible to reach a deal with Senator Joe Manchin to push the $2 trillion Build Back Better bill through Congress.

The pan European Stoxx 600 climbed 0.92%. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 advanced 0.61%, Germany's DAX gained 0.95% and France's CAC 40 ended 1.24% up, while Switzerland's SMI closed higher by 0.25%.

Among other markets in Europe, Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Ireland, Netherlands, Poland, Russia, Spain and Sweden closed with sharp to moderate gains.

Greece ended modestly higher. Norway and Portugal edged up marginally, while Turkey ended sharply lower, extending losses from the previous session.

In the UK market, Dechra Pharmaceuticals gained nearly 4.5%. Rolls-Royce Holdings rallied 3.3%. IHG, RightMove, Taylor Wimpey, ICP, Whitbread, Informa, Persimmon, Electrocomponents, Halma, Compass Group, ITV, Auto Trader Group, Aveva Group and Barratt Developments gained 2 to 2.7%.

Rentokil Initial declined more than 2.5%. Pershing Square Holdings, Rio Tinto, Vodafone Group, Fresnillo and Pearson also closed weak.

In the French market, Airbus climbed more than 4%. CapGemini gained about 3.6%, while Safran, Atos, Dassault Systemes, Essilor, LVMH, Vinci, STMicroElectronics, Teleperformance, Thales, Accor, Unibail Rodamco and Saint Gobain gained 1.5 to 3%.

In Germany, Sartorius, Siemens Healthineers, MTU Aero Engines, Puma, Daimler, Brenntag, Adidas, Fresenius Medical Care and Zalando gained 1 to 4%.

Shares of Delivery Hero rallied sharply after the company said that it would scale down its Foodpanda operations in Germany and sell the subsidiary's Japan unit.

In economic releases, revised data showed that the U.K. economy expanded less than estimated in the third quarter. Gross domestic product grew 1.1% sequentially, instead of 1.3% estimated previously. This follows a revised increase of 5.4% in the second quarter.

The level of GDP was 1.5% below where it was pre-coronavirus at the fourth quarter of 2019, revised down from the prior estimate of 2.1%. Annual GDP decreased 9.4% in 2020, revised from the first quarterly estimate of negative 9.7%.

France producer price inflation accelerated in November with prices surging 17.4% annually after rising 15.2% in October, data from the statistical office Insee showed. The increase was largely driven by the 98.4% surge in coke and refined petroleum product prices.

On a monthly basis, domestic producer prices grew 3.5% in November, bigger than the 2.9% increase in October.

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