European shares kick off 2021 with rally on Brexit and vaccine optimism

© Reuters.

(Reuters) – European shares rallied in the first trading session of the year as a landmark Brexit trade deal and coronavirus vaccine drives across the continent bolstered expectations of a strong economic rebound.

The pan-regional index gained 1.2% to touch fresh February 2020 highs, with mining and travel & leisure stocks among the top gainers.

London’s blue-chip index rose 1.6% in its first day of trading with Britain outside the European Union’s orbit.

While the hard-fought trade deal agreed late December set rules for industries such as fishing and agriculture, it did not cover Britain’s much larger finance sector, meaning automatic access to the EU’s financial markets came to an end on Dec. 31.

Shares in UK banks such as Lloyds Banking Group (LON:), Barclays (LON:) and Natwest traded marginally lower.

gained 1.1% to trade below all-time highs, while 40 was up 1.3%.

In company news, shares in Ladbrokes (LON:) owner Entain Plc jumped 26.2% despite saying an $11 billion bid proposal from U.S. casino operator MGM Resorts (NYSE:) significantly undervalued its business.

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