European shares are close to report highs, Cineworld wins

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The DAX chart of the German share index is shown on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange on May 20, 2021. REUTERS / employees

(Reuters) – European stocks hit record highs on Monday as investors expected continued economic recovery and strong corporate earnings numbers to keep the market momentum going.

The pan-European index rose by 0.2% to 445.10 points, just below its record high of 446.19 points.

Trading activity was subdued as markets in Austria, Denmark, Hungary, Norway, Switzerland and Germany were closed for holidays.

British Cineworld Group Plc rose 2.8% after the animated adventure comedy "Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway" attracted more people than expected after a month-long COVID-19 lockdown.

European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde said Friday it was too early to discuss policy after the end of the € 1.85 trillion purchase program, and rejected requests from some colleagues for a reduction to consider.

The central bank is expected to meet early next month to discuss its policy.

"With the economy only now recovering, it is still early to expect a transition out of crisis mode for the ECB, but a necessary one," wrote Sebastien Galy of Nordea Asset Management in a morning note.

The STOXX 600 ended the week marginally higher on Friday despite inflation worries as a survey found that Eurozone business growth accelerated in May at the fastest pace in over three years.

There were some concerns when the German health institute declared the UK and Northern Ireland a virus variant region, requiring anyone entering the country from the UK to be quarantined for two weeks upon arrival.

Italy lagged as several stocks traded with no dividends.

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