Stellar earnings fuel European stocks to best week in nearly 5 months

European stocks inched up to a record close on Friday, marking their best week since mid-March on a run of strong............

Stellar earnings fuel European stocks to best week in nearly 5 months
© Reuters. The German share price index DAX graph is pictured at the stock exchange in Frankfurt, Germany, August 5, 2021. REUTERS/Staff

(Reuters) -European stocks inched up to a record close on Friday, marking their best week since mid-March on a run of strong quarterly earnings and as hopes of a broader rebound drove buying in economy-linked sectors.

The pan-regional STOXX 600 index notched a fifth straight record high to gain 1.8% for the week, ending it at 469.97 points.

Bank stocks were the best performers this week, adding 4.4% as positive earnings reports from majors including HSBC and Societe Generale (OTC:SCGLY) boosted the index.

The sector also rose nearly 2% on Friday, outpacing its regional peers as German bond and U.S. Treasury yields surged on the back of strong payrolls data in the United States. [GVD/EUR] [US/]

Energy stocks were among the top performers this week, advancing 3.6% as strong earnings and expectations of a rebound in economic activity this year drove buying.

"Recent positive business survey data has underlined our view that the trend toward global reopening and recovery remains on track. As a result, we expect cyclical parts of the market to outperform, including energy and financials," UBS analysts wrote in a note.

Much stronger-than-expected quarterly results and a flurry of merger activity powered European stocks through lingering concerns about soaring COVID-19 cases globally.

Two-thirds of all STOXX 600 companies have reported so far, and 67% have topped profit estimates, according to Refinitiv IBES data. That is far above the 51% beat rate in a typical quarter.

Data on Friday, however, showed German industrial output unexpectedly fell again in June, suggesting supply chain disruptions from the pandemic were likely to persist for the time being.

Among individual movers, Allianz (DE:ALVG), the continent's largest insurer, rose 2.5% after it posted a better-than-expected jump in second-quarter net profit and provided a rosier outlook for the full year.

French IT consulting group Atos jumped 10.9% to the top of the STOXX 600 after a report said several private equity firms were looking at the company.

London Stock Exchange Group (LON:LSEG) added 5% after it reported a 4.6% rise in revenue for the first half of 2021.

Italian lender Banco BPM jumped 7.3% on swinging to a profit in the second quarter, helped by one-off tax benefits and higher revenues.

Among notable decliners, German meal-kit delivery company HelloFresh fell 2.5% after it lowered its 2021 profitability forecast as a result of higher spending to tap into strong growth.