European stocks extended an all-time high, posting their biggest weekly gain since January.
The Stoxx Europe 600 Index advanced 0.9 percent to 412.93 at the close of trading in London. It has climbed 3.8 percent in a holiday-shortened week. Rallies in Nokia Oyj and Shire Plc led technology and health-care stocks higher on Friday.
The benchmark gauge surpassed a record reached in 2000 on Thursday as data showed German industrial production beat forecasts, fueling optimism the euro-area economy is improving. That took its annual rally to 21 percent as the euro weakened with the European Central Bank starting a quantitative-easing program. Similar measures by the Federal Reserve helped U.S. stocks more than triple from a 2009 low, including a 30 percent rally in 2013.
“This year will be Europe’s answer to what U.S. equities gave us in 2013,” Peter Garnry, Saxo Bank A/S’s head of equity strategy, said by phone from Hellerup, Denmark. “Companies are facing extremely cheap financing rates, the lowest euro in a decade, low oil prices, QE and an improving economy. If all these positive factors can’t get Europe back on track, then nothing will.”
Fourteen of the 17 western-European markets open on Friday advanced. Benchmark gauges in Norway and Germany posted the biggest gains, rising more than 1.7 percent. Portugal’s PSI 20 Index dropped 0.3 percent for the worst performance. Greek markets were closed for a holiday.
Technology and health-care stocks climbed the most in the Stoxx 600. Nokia jumped 5.6 percent after people familiar with the matter said it’s exploring the sale of its maps business. Shire rallied 4.8 percent after U.S. regulators granted a priority review for its experimental eye drug Lifitegrast.
Carrefour SA climbed 2 percent after France’s largest retailer forecast annual profit growth of as much as 6.7 percent and reported first-quarter sales that beat the median analyst estimate. Bollore SA added 1.9 percent after it spent 800 million euros ($849 million) to increase its stake in Vivendi SA to 14.52 percent.
U.K. homebuilders advanced after Jefferies Group LLC said the housing market ahead of a May 7 general election is stronger than expected. Barratt Developments Plc and Taylor Wimpey Plc gained more than 3 percent as the brokerage upgraded the shares. The FTSE 100 Index climbed 1.1 percent, extending a record.
Cie. de Saint-Gobain SA lost 2.4 percent after a report said its chief executive officer sees no construction recovery in France this year.