China and Turkey were the only major economies to see year-on-year GDP growth in the last quarter. China’s economy was 6.5% ahead of the same quarter in 2019, meaning it saw positive growth in three consecutive quarters of 2020.
The news that US President Joe Biden had turned to a bipartisan group of officials for help on his proposed $1.9trn coronavirus relief plan was sufficient to push European indices to one-year highs when markets opened on Monday (15 Feb).
Mining and oil stocks were among the biggest winners as investors equated the deal with a faster recovery. Within this, the price of copper jumped to an eight-year high, lifting miners such as Rio Tinto, BHP Group and Anglo American.
Meanwhile, the oil price hit a 13-month high, helped by major weather disruptions in Texas. This also helped to boost energy stocks which, along with Europe’s banks, have been key recipients of the ‘recovery trade’ in unloved sectors. Shares in BP, for example, gained almost 7% on the day.
According to Reuters, Europe’s STOXX 600 Index was up some 55% at the start of the week from the seven-year low it hit last March, but it still lags US indices thanks to Europe’s continued lockdowns.
Shares in Vivendi, the French media conglomerate, saw their biggest ever gains – a leap of almost 20% – on Monday (15 February) after it announced plans to distribute 60% of Universal Music’s capital to investors and to list Universal, the jewel in its crown, in Amsterdam by the end of the year.
The company had previously planned to list its highly lucrative music label in early 2023 but has moved up the timetable following the recent sale of a further 10% stake in the business to a consortium led by China’s Tencent Holdings, which now owns 20% of the world’s biggest music catalogue.
The deal valued Universal, the home of artists such as Taylor Swift, U2, Adele, Coldplay and Elton John, at €30bn (£26.2bn).The plans are part of Vivendi’s efforts to monetise the spiralling value of music assets triggered by the rise of streaming services like Spotify.
The company also plans to propose a dividend of €0.60 (£0.52) a share for 2020 at an upcoming shareholder meeting
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