European Shares Extend Gains In Cautious Trade

European stocks rose for the third straight session on Wednesday, though a cautious undertone prevailed amid renewed concerns about the emergence of new Covid variants and the threat of inflation.

Omicron still poses “very high” risk and could overwhelm healthcare systems, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned, as the highly transmissible coronavirus variant fueled record outbreaks in many countries.

“The overall risk related to the new variant of concern Omicron remains very high,” the UN health agency said in its Covid-19 weekly epidemiological update.

France’s new coronavirus cases in a 24-hour period hit a record high of 179,807 on Tuesday, by far the highest one-day tallies worldwide since the start of the pandemic. The previous record of 104,611 was set on Saturday.

U.K., Italy, Greece and Portugal all hit record daily infections as the Omicron coronavirus variant continues to surge across the continent.

The pan European Stoxx 600 rose 0.3 percent to 489.90, after having hit a five-week high in the previous session.

The German DAX slipped 0.1 percent and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 jumped more than 1 percent, while France’s CAC 40 index was marginally higher.

Italy’s BPER Banca jumped 2.2 percent after signing workforce optimization agreement with trade unions.

BP Plc and Royal Dutch Shell both rose about 1 percent in London on higher oil prices.

AstraZeneca gained 0.8 percent. Ionis Pharmaceuticals, Inc. a company focused on RNA-targeted therapies, has unveiled the closing of the previously announced collaboration deal with AstraZeneca to develop and commercialize eplontersen, following expiration of the waiting period under the HSR Act.

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