UPDATE 2-European stocks close to all-time highs as miners, tech shine
* Miners, tech boost STOXX 600
* Benchmark index 7 points short of record highs
* Maersk rebounds after sharp losses on Suez Canal blockage
* ABB gains on $4.3 bln share buyback plan
(Updates to close, adds fresh comments)
By Sruthi Shankar
March 26 (Reuters) - European stocks ended the week close to all-time highs, with miners prominent as investors shrugged off worries about a third wave of coronavirus infections and focused on prospects of a solid global economic recovery.
The pan-European STOXX 600 index .STOXX rose 0.8% on Friday, just enough to register its fourth straight weekly rise and seven points short of a record high.
Mining .SXPP and oil & gas stocks .SXEP gave the biggest boost to the index, while defensive sectors including healthcare and utilities were slightly down.
Led by chipmakers, notably ASML ASML.AS and ASM International ASMI.AS , the STOXX 600 tech index rose 2.7%, posting its biggest weekly gain since early November.
Trading earlier in the week was subdued by worries about new lockdowns and a slow pace of vaccination in the euro zone, but optimism about a stimulus-driven recovery in the United States brightened the outlook for global growth.
"Ultimately – you still have abundant fiscal and monetary support as the economies open up," said Ankit Gheedia, BNP Paribas (PA: BNPP )' head of equity and derivative strategy for Europe.
Though the market has been driven mainly by third wave concerns and slower vaccinations in continental Europe over the past week, Gheedia sees supply picking up sharply over the next few weeks.
"It's the best time to be long equities.... with value as a longer-term trade."
With rising hopes of a strong economic recovery, the world's largest steelmaker, Arcelormittal MT.AS , rose 7.4%, while shares in Rio Tinto RIO.L , Glencore GLEN.L and BHP Group (JO: BHPJ ) BHPB.L were up between 3.7% and 5%. MET/L
UK-listed copper miner Kaz Minerals Plc KAZ.L rose 2.8% after it received a final bid worth 4.02 billion pounds ($5.53 billion) from Chairman-led Nova Resources. Stanley said global equities should slow down but Europe was poised to outperform relative to other markets, as it expects the region's relative economic momentum to improve over the next 3-6 months.
Shipping company A.P. Moller Maersk MAERSKb.CO rose 5.5%, rebounding after recent losses in the wake of a massive traffic jam caused by a giant container stuck in the Suez Canal, one of the world's busiest shipping channels. Banco Santander SAN.MC added 2.9% after saying it will offer to buy the 8.3% stake in its Mexican unit it doesn't already own, strengthening its grip on its Latin American businesses. engineering company ABB ABBN.S gained 1.9% after it announced plans to buyback shares worth around $4.3 billion. European stocks volatility
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