Title: Stocks firm on Europe's last full trading day
Dec 30, 2021 05:00AM ET
European stocks edged higher on Thursday on hopes that no new coronavirus-related restrictions would be needed in the New Year, although a rise in COVID-19 cases due to the Omicron variant held back gains.
The pan-European STOXX 600 rose 0.2% after falling 0.1% on Wednesday, led by the technology sector and defensive stocks including healthcare and real estate.
Spain's IBEX index was unchanged after consumer prices rose 6.7% nationwide in December from a year earlier, the fastest annual rise in inflation since 1989.
The index underperformed its regional peers in 2021, gaining only 7%, while the STOXX 600 rose 22%.
Meanwhile, France's CAC 40 outperformed the benchmark's gains in 2021 as hopes for an economic recovery boosted luxury stocks, even as the outlook for Asian demand remains bleak going into the New Year.
The blue-chip index is up 29% in 2021 and is heading for its best year in more than two decades, outperforming even the S&P 500's 27% rise.
Global COVID Reuters data showed on Wednesday that 19 infections hit a record high in the past seven days as countries try to balance omicron restrictions while keeping economies open.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said earlier this week that he would not introduce any new pandemic-related restrictions this year, while a curfew for mainland France was ruled out.
Researchers said on Thursday that a booster dose of Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine was 84% effective in preventing hospitalizations among South African health workers infected by the Omicron spread.