Europe midday: Shares extend gains on central bank rate clarity

European shares extended gains on Friday on the back of a Wall Street rally and positive closes in Asia as investors became more comfortable with central bank efforts to tackle inflation.
The pan-European Stoxx 600 index rose 0.93% with all major bourses in positive territory.

“After a torrid few months, there are some tentative signs of green shoots emerging as investors become more comfortable with the stance of the central banks in tackling inflation,” said Richard Hunter at Interactive Investor.

“The recent Federal Reserve minutes confirmed that further hikes in June and July were on the table, but that it would remain flexible thereafter.”

“This has provided something of a relief rally to investors on two fronts, the first of which being that the statement could signal a pause in rate hikes in the autumn. At the same time, there is also the possibility that the Fed’s hawkish stance has now been fully priced in to markets, which could signal the return of some opportunistic buying.”

AJ Bell financial analyst Danni Hewson said said investors “feel a little happier that they know where things are going to go, and also that there’s going to be a real focus from central banks to make sure that they do take a measured approach… to create this soft landing to prevent economies from going into recession”.

On a slow day of equity news, shares in Auto1 Group fell after the online car-selling platform was downgraded to ‘sell’ from ‘neutral’ by JP Morgan.

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