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European markets hit record high as U.S. data boosts recovery hopes

European markets advanced on Friday to notch record highs as global stocks take heart from strong economic data out of the U.S.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 gained 0.4% in early trade to pass Thursday’s intraday record high. Insurance stocks added 1.2% to lead gains as all sectors except autos entered positive territory.

Global equities look to be heading for a seventh consecutive day of gains after first-time jobless claims in the U.S. fell to a new pandemic low of 406,000, according to Labor Department data on Thursday, delivering a positive indication of the health of the recovery in the world’s largest economy.

Asian stocks also climbed in Friday’s trade, led by a gain of more than 2% for Japan’s Nikkei 225, while U.S. stock futures were pointing to a strong open on Wall Street later in the day.

Investors are also monitoring ncaegotiations in Washington over an infrastructure spending package aimed at further bolstering the recovery. Senate Republicans presented a $928 billion counteroffer to President Joe Biden on Thursday, well below the White House’s latest $1.7 trillion proposal.

Back in Europe, the United Nations’ International Civil Aviation Organization will investigate Belarus over its forced grounding of a Ryanair passenger plane in order to arrest a dissident journalist, a move that triggered global outrage.

Meanwhile, Russia has blocked airspace to Air France and Austrian Airlines after the two carriers altered their flight plans to avoid its ally Belarus in protest at the government’s actions.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has warned that the full lifting of England’s coronavirus restrictions on June 21 may be delayed as cases in the country of the Covid variant first detected in India doubled over the past week.

On the data front, a host of business climate, economic sentiment and consumer confidence surveys for May are due out of the euro zone at 10 a.m. London time. France will publish the final first-quarter GDP growth figures and May’s preliminary inflation readings.

Oil major Total holds its annual general meeting on Friday, with the group proposing to change its name to TotalEnergies to signal its move toward cleaner energy sources.

In terms of individual share price movement, Luxembourgish telecoms company SES climbed 4% to lead the Stoxx 600, while at the bottom of the index, Dutch biochemicals company Corbion fell 5%.

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