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European stocks gain as focus shifts to earnings, stimulus talks

(Reuters) – European shares rose on Monday, with cyclical sectors leading gains as investors hoped the upcoming earnings season and stimulus talks will feed into an economic recovery from the coronavirus-induced downturn.

The pan-European STOXX index rose 0.5%, with miners .SXPP gaining 1.7% on optimism over China’s recovery and surging metal prices. [.SS] [MET/L]

Other growth-oriented sectors such as travel & leisure .SXTP, banks .SX7P, automakers .SXAP and oil & gas .SXEP rose between 0.6% and 1.2%.

Global investor sentiment also brightened at the start of a week that kicks off the U.S. and European quarterly earnings season and includes a summit over the European Union recovery fund and a European Central Bank policy meeting.

“There appears to be some optimism that forecasts have been lowered to such an extent that businesses will be able to clear this low bar and surpass expectations,” AJ Bell Investment Director Russ Mould said.

Companies listed on the STOXX 600 are expected to report a 54% drop in second-quarter profit, the worst ever reading for Europe, according to Refinitiv data.

While the ECB is not expected to make a major move, European leaders will meet on July 17-18 to hammer out details on the $750 billion euro recovery fund, a key factor for euro zone stocks .STOXXE.

“Our economists are optimistic that an agreement on the European Recovery Fund can be reached, though it is touch and go whether this can happen in time for the summit,” analysts at RBC wrote in a morning note.

Financial markets have taken comfort from trillions of dollars in stimulus and progress in the development of a COVID-19 treatment even as the World Health Organization reported a record increase in global coronavirus cases on Sunday.

In company news, Finnish valves maker Neles NELES.HE surged 36.5% to hit a record high after Swedish industrial group Alfa Laval (ALFA.ST) announced a recommended 1.73 billion euro ($1.96 billion) cash bid.

Nordic bank DNB (DNB.OL) rose 9.2% and Nordic Semiconductor (NOD.OL) gained 9.0% following better-than-expected earnings reports.

Norwegian blue-chips .OSEAX jumped 1.6% in their biggest one-day percentage gain in nearly a month.

Swedish hygiene products group Essity (ESSITYb.ST) was flat after reporting a marginal rise in second-quarter core earnings, as the initial bulk-buying of products eased as countries emerged from the lockdown.

French video games group Ubisoft (UBIP.PA) fell 7.2% as it announced staff departures after a review in response to allegations of misconduct at the company.

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