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European shares set for weekly gains; UK's Phoenix soars
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European shares set for weekly gains; UK's Phoenix soars
Mar 22, 2024 3:09 AM

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German business sentiment rises in March - Ifo

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UK's Phoenix tops STOXX on upbeat outlook & results

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Legal & General ( LGGNF ) up on shelving China business licence plan

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STOXX 600 up 0.1%

(Updated at 0918 GMT)

By Shubham Batra

March 22 (Reuters) - European shares were largely flat

on Friday but maintained record highs as gains in the

telecommunications sector were offset by losses in technology

shares, while investors awaited comments from European Central

Bank policymakers later in the day.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index was up 0.1% and

was on track for its eighth consecutive weekly gain after

notching another fresh high earlier in the day, with Britain's

FTSE 100 outperforming regional peers.

British retail sales unexpectedly held steady in February

despite wet weather hitting in-store sales, adding to signs the

economy is recovering from last year's mild recession.

"January's bounce in UK retail sales was short-lived, with

February's reading flat, and down by 0.4% on last year's number.

This was slightly ahead of economists' expectations, but

overall, not a great sign for the UK economy," said Michael

Field, European market strategist at Morningstar.

Rate-sensitive technology shares slipped 1% after

leading sectoral gains on Thursday, while the personal and

household goods index was down 0.7% owing to overnight

weakness in Chinese markets.

Shares of LVMH, Christian Dior and

Hermes International were down between 1.7% and 2.2%.

German business morale improved in March by more than

expected, a survey showed. The Ifo institute said its business

climate index stood at 87.8, compared with a reading of 86.0

forecast by analysts in a Reuters poll.

ECB's chief economist Philip Lane will speak on inflation

and monetary policy later in the day, while the focus will also

be on comments from ECB President Christine Lagarde, who is

participating in the Euro Summit in Brussels.

UK's Phoenix Group ( PNXGF ) topped the STOXX 600 with a 9.5%

jump after the insurer said it aimed to generate operating cash

of 1.4 billion pounds ($1.77 billion) and pay down 500 million

pounds in debt by 2026.

Spain's Grifols fell 0.6% despite market

supervisor CNMV finding no significant errors in the drugmaker's

amounts it had reported.

JD Sports was down 4% after Nike ( NKE ) warned that

its revenue in the first half of fiscal 2025 would shrink by a

low single-digit percentage as the world's largest sportswear

maker scaled back on franchises to save costs.

Legal & General ( LGGNF ) was up 1% after the British insurer

shelved a plan to obtain a China business licence and more than

halved onshore headcount, two sources said.

Shares of Nordea Bank and Danske Bank ( DNSKF )

slumped 7.7% and 2.4%, respectively, as they traded ex-dividend.

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