European stocks kicked off the new quarter with small gains on Thursday, as optimism around a new U.S. government spending plan eclipsed concerns of another COVID-19 wave with France imposing a third national lockdown.
The pan-European STOXX 600 index rose 0.2% in early trading, hovering just 3 points below its all-time high. The benchmark ended the first quarter with a 7.7% rise – its fourth straight quarter of gains.

European chip companies including ASML, ASMI, Infineon Technologies BE Semiconductor all rose between 1.8% and 4.4% after U.S. chipmaker Micron Technology issued an upbeat revenue forecast.
Meanwhile, contract chipmaker TSMC said it plans to invest $100 billion over the next three years to increase capacity at its plants.

Wall Street stocks climbed overnight as investors pinned hopes on a strong U.S. economy as President Joe Biden unveiled a sweeping $2.3 trillion spending plan including investments in roads, railways, broadband, clean energy and semiconductor manufacture.

French retailers and travel stocks came under pressure after the latest lockdown. Hotels group Accor inched up 0.3%, while catering companies Sodexo and Elior dropped almost 2%.

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