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Jan 4 (Reuters) – European stocks extended the new year rally on Tuesday with economy-sensitive travel, retail and commodity stocks leading the gains on fresh signs that the Omicron virus variant might be less severe than initially feared.
The pan-European STOXX 600 index rose 0.6% to 492.42 by 0809 GMT, hitting a record high after Wall Street’s S&P 500 and Dow closed at all-time highs overnight.
The travel & leisure index jumped 2.5% to its highest in more than six weeks. Airlines Ryanair, British Airways-owner IAG and Wizz Air gained between 6% and 8%.
London’s FTSE 100 gained 1%, catching up with a global rally as trade resumed after a long holiday weekend.
Britain’s vaccine minister said people being hospitalised with COVID-19 in the United Kingdom were broadly showing less severe symptoms than before.
French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said although the surge of the fast-spreading Omicron variant was disrupting some sectors, there was no risk of it “paralysing” the economy, and stuck to a forecast of 4% growth for France’s GDP in 2022. (Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)