By Susan Mathew
(Reuters) - European shares made a positive start to the month on Tuesday following record-breaking gains in November, with optimism around a coronavirus vaccine strengthening the case for economic recovery.
Hopes the pandemic might end soon came from Pfizer and BioNTech seeking emergency approval from the European regulator of their vaccine candidate, neck-and-neck with Moderna, which announced it would ask the regulator to recommend conditional approval for its shot.[MKTS/GLOB]
After a day's dip when investors took some profits, the pan-European STOXX 600 index was back in the black, up 0.7%. The index ended November with gains of nearly 14%.
Gains were largely broad-based with basic materials in the lead as robust China factory activity data buoyed copper and iron ore prices. Defensive plays such as healthcare and utilities lagged. [IRONORE/] [MET/L]
After marking its best month in over three decades, London's blue-chip index rallied 1.9% to post its best day in three weeks, propelled by data showing improving confidence and the UK's fastest growth in factory activity in three years. [.L]
Elsewhere in Europe, impacts of lockdowns to curb the spread of COVID-19 continued to be felt, with manufacturing activity in France and Germany slowing in November.
"More stringent restrictions and tougher fiscal conversations should keep growth (in Europe) subdued, even if there is catch up potential," said Esty Dwek, head of global market strategy at Natixis Investment Managers Solutions, adding that expectations are for a weak first quarter.
Some European nations are set to cautiously lift coronavirus-induced curbs put in place to control the spread of the novel coronavirus, while the European Central Bank's meeting next week will be eyed for policy easing especially after Tuesday's data showing dropping inflation.
"Europe should be one of the beneficiaries of the reopening trade, as indices remain well below the U.S. and well below pre-crisis levels, Dwek said. "The EU Recovery Fund and additional ECB support should help with sentiment, supporting a recovery in financials among others."
On the Brexit front, a senior British minister said on Tuesday there was still a chance of a turbulent exit from the European Union without a trade deal, as talks had snagged on fishing, governance rules and dispute resolution.
Among stocks, Italian lender Unicredit SpA logged its worst day since March, sliding 8% after it said Chief Executive Officer Jean Pierre Mustier will step down in April next year over disagreements with the board. [nL8N2IH1OK]
(Reporting by Susan Mathew in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta and Tom Brown)