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Europe midday: Stoxx hits record high as ECB pledges to maintain stimulus

European shares hit record highs by midday on Friday as investors were cheered by the European Central Bank’s decision to increase the pace of asset purchases despite rising inflation.
The pan-European Stoxx 600 index was up 0.3% to 456.37 points at 1125 BST. Britain’s FTSE 100 was boosted by a rise in mining shares and GDP data, outperforming the benchmark with a 0.66% rise.

Investors also took heart from the European Central Bank, which on Thursday said that its emergency asset purchases would continue at a “significantly higher” pace over the third quarter than in the first months of 2021, allying fears of a slowdown in stimulus amid signs that the pace of Continental economic recovery was slowing.

The ECB also raised its growth and inflation projections for the euro zone.

In the UK, official data showed the economy grew in April at its fastest monthly pace since July 2020 as lockdown restrictions eased.

The economy expanded by 2.3% following 2.1% growth in March and versus expectations for 2.5% growth. On the year, GDP was up 27.6%. Nevertheless, the UK economy is still 3.7% smaller than it was in February 2020, before the pandemic and related restrictions kicked in.

In equity news shares in French reinsurer Scor jumped 5.6% as major shareholder Covea agreed to an orderly exit from the company after a settlement over a frustrated takeover attempt.

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