European stocks kicked off the new quarter with small gains on Thursday, as optimism around a new U.S. government spending plan eclipsed concerns of another COVID-19 wave with France imposing a third national lockdown.
The pan-European STOXX 600 index rose 0.2% in early trading, hovering just 3 points below its all-time high. The benchmark ended the first quarter with a 7.7% rise - its fourth straight quarter of gains.
European chip companies including ASML, ASMI, Infineon (OTC:IFNNY) Technologies BE Semiconductor all rose between 1.8% and 4.4% after U.S. chipmaker Micron Technology (NASDAQ:MU) issued an upbeat revenue forecast.
Meanwhile, contract chipmaker TSMC said it plans to invest $100 billion over the next three years to increase capacity at its plants.
Wall Street stocks climbed overnight as investors pinned hopes on a strong U.S. economy as President Joe Biden unveiled a sweeping $2.3 trillion spending plan including investments in roads, railways, broadband, clean energy and semiconductor manufacture.
French retailers and travel stocks came under pressure after the latest lockdown. Hotels group Accor (PA:ACCP) inched up 0.3%, while catering companies Sodexo (PA:EXHO) and Elior dropped almost 2%. (Reuters)