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European shares inch up on pharma boost, set to post second weekly gain

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European shares edged up on Friday, hovering near a nine-month high, as healthcare stocks rose and the British economy unexpectedly grew in November, with investors awaiting earnings from big U.S. banks.

The pan-regional STOXX 600 gained 0.2% by 0811 GMT, while the UK’s FTSE 100 added 0.4% after data showed British economy eked out 0.1% growth in November.

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European shares were headed towards a second straight weekly gain, in an upbeat start to January and the new year, after data signaled a slowdown in inflation in the euro zone and the United States, which could allow central banks to slow the pace of their monetary policy tightening.

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Rate-sensitive tech and retail stocks have led gains so far this year, up 13% and 14.4%, respectively, after a rough 2022 where fears of an economic slowdown and rising interest rates hammered these sectors.

On Friday, healthcare stocks provided the biggest boost to the index, with Novo Nordisk A/S and Roche Holding AG gaining more than 1.5% in early trading.

Enel edged up after its CEO was quoted as saying the Italian power utility company could secure up to 5 billion euros ($5.4 billion) for investment from REPower EU energy funds in addition to 3.5 billion euros in EU recovery funds already won.

Shares of online gaming company Kindred Group dropped 16.6% on profit warning for the fourth quarter. (Reporting by Bansari Mayur Kamdar in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh.V)



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