European shares rise as defensives rally, hawkish Fed weighs


Healthcare stocks helped European shares recover on Thursday from their worst session in a month, even as hawkish Federal Reserve minutes and Washington’s new sanctions against Russia kept investors cautious.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index rose 0.5% after losing 1.5% in the previous session. Defensives led the sectoral gains, with healthcare jumping 1.4% to a record.

But a decline in basic material and oil stocks saw London’s commodity-heavy FTSE 100 index underperform regional peers.

Shell dropped 1.2% after saying it would write down up to $5 billion in the first quarter as a result of its decision to exit Russia, higher than previously disclosed.

Elsewhere, stocks markets in Asia and the United States weakened after minutes of the Fed’s March meeting showed that officials last month “generally agreed” to cut up to $95 billion a month from the central bank’s asset holdings as another tool in the fight against surging inflation.

Investors now await the European Central Bank’s minutes due later in the day. The ECB had turned off its money taps, paving the way for an increase in interest rates in its March meeting.

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