Energy shares boost European equities but recession fears cap gains

BY Reuters | ECONOMIC | 07/04/22 04:56 AM EDT

By Devik Jain and Susan Mathew

(Reuters) -European shares rose on Monday as the oil and gas sector marked its best session in two months, while bleak euro zone investor morale kept sentiment in check ahead of the European Central Bank's plan to start hiking interest rates this month.

The continent-wide STOXX 600 index was up 0.5% after falling last week on worries about a potential global economic slowdown. Volumes were subdued due to a U.S. market holiday.

London-listed oil giants BP Plc and Shell, and France's TotalEnergies jumped between 4.6% and 4.4%. They were the biggest boost to the STOXX 600 as supply concerns driven by lower OPEC output, unrest in Libya and sanctions on Russia lifted crude prices. [O/R]

The energy sector rallied 4.0%, and London's FTSE 100 closed up 0.9%.

Healthcare and miners were among the other top sectoral performers.

Limiting gains were declines in real estate, auto and tech stocks, with the latter two weighing on the German DAX which closed down 0.3%.

A Sentix survey on Monday showed investor morale in the euro zone fell this month to its lowest level since May 2020, pointing to an "inevitable" recession in the 19-country currency bloc.

Producer prices for the region, meanwhile, rose less than expected, data showed. This comes after consumer prices hit a record high, cementing the case for an interest rate hike by the ECB.

Investors will now be watching for minutes of the ECB's previous rate meeting on Thursday.

"ECB minutes will certainly give a bit more colour into what's going on behind the scenes," John Woolfitt, director of trading at Atlantic Capital Markets, said.

"We are cautiously optimistic, but we are also seeing the opportunity when the market has a big bounce up to short into those moves because they don't seem to have the depth."

Aggressive central bank moves to curtail inflation have left investors worried about the likely hit to economic growth, with the STOXX 600 down 16% so far this year.

In companies news, German utility Uniper plunged 27.6% with a trader pointing to nationalization risks amid discussions about its bailout plan.

Grafton Group slid 7.7% after the building materials supplier said Gavin Slark would step down as chief executive officer after 11 years in the role.

AMS Osram AG dropped 7.9% after JP Morgan downgraded the Austrian sensor maker's stock to "neutral" from "overweight," citing concerns over high debt levels and end-market exposure.

(Reporting by Devik Jain in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh.V and Andrew Heavens)

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