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European Shares Cap Best 3-Day Gain Ever on Stimulus Optimism

Macarena Munoz and Namitha Jagadeesh

(Bloomberg) -- European stocks posted their biggest three-day rally on record on optimism that measures unveiled by governments and central banks will limit the economic damage from the coronavirus.

The Stoxx 600 Index closed 2.6% higher, erasing an intraday drop and taking its three-day advance to 15%. Travel and leisure shares, the worst-hit in the rout that began last month, led the advance, while carmakers and miners lagged.

Investors are assessing stimulus packages from Europe to the U.S. aimed at cushioning the economic blow from the spreading coronavirus. While U.S. jobless claims surged, the hit to the economy may be limited by a $2 trillion rescue plan that Senate has approved and needs to be passed by the Democratic-led House.

“Investors have cash ready to go back to the market but the details from all the measures announced have to be analyzed, there’s a lot to digest,” said Ricardo Gil, head of asset allocation at Trea Asset Management in Madrid. “We expect April to be better than March, but there’s still a long way for markets to stabilize.”

The Stoxx 600 has clawed back about a fourth of the losses seen since the Feb. 19 peak as worries about the pandemic escalated. It’s on track for its best week since November 2008.

Following the market rout, a number of asset managers may have to reshuffle their holdings by raising their exposure to equities again. Norway’s wealth fund is likely to rebalance its portfolio by buying stocks, its chief executive officer said on Thursday, while the investment committee of Credit Suisse Group AG raised equities in developed markets to a “small overweight.”

“In light of the announced U.S. stimulus package, we think that the risk of a very bad economic outcome has come down significantly,” Credit Suisse strategists wrote in a note. “As investors will rarely buy the bottom in volatile markets such as these, the Investment Committee feels that there is merit in being an early mover rather than wait until a market bottom has become apparent for all.”

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