European stocks hover near record high, Cineworld gains By Reuters

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The German share price index DAX graph is pictured at the stock exchange in Frankfurt, Germany, May 20, 2021. REUTERS/Staff

(Reuters) -European stocks closed in on record highs on Monday as investors counted on continued economic recovery and strength in corporate earnings to keep the market momentum going.

The pan-European index rose 0.2% to 445.10 points, just below its record high of 446.19 points.

Trading activity was subdued with markets in Austria, Denmark, Hungary, Norway, Switzerland and Germany closed for holiday.

UK’s Cineworld Group Plc rose 2.8% after animated adventure comedy “Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway” pulled in more people than expected after a months-long COVID-19 lockdown.

Helping the sentiment, European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde said on Friday it was still too early to discuss policy after the end of its 1.85 trillion euro emergency bond purchase scheme, dismissing calls by some colleagues to consider tapering.

The central bank is set to meet early next month to discuss its policy.

“With an economy only now rebounding, it is early days in anticipating a transition out of crisis mode for the ECB, but a necessary one,” Nordea Asset Management’s Sebastien Galy wrote in a morning note.

The STOXX 600 ended the week marginally higher on Friday despite worries about inflation as a survey showed euro zone business growth accelerated at its fastest pace in over three years in May.

There were some concerns as Germany’s public health institute declared Britain and Northern Ireland a virus variant region, requiring anyone entering the country from the United Kingdom to quarantine for two weeks on arrival.

Italy’s lagged as several stocks traded ex-dividend.

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