European stocks inch higher as AstraZeneca gains on UK vaccine approval

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Dec 30 (Reuters) - European stocks edged higher on Wednesday as Britain approved a COVID-19 vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University, while bets of more U.S. fiscal aid and massive vaccination efforts spurred hopes of a strong global economic recovery next year.

The pan-European STOXX 600 rose 0.1% by 0810 GMT, hovering near a 10-month high hit in the previous session.

Shares in AstraZeneca were up 1.3% after jumping 3.3% earlier in anticipation of the news. The drugmaker said the authorisation was for a two-dose regime, and that the vaccine had been approved for use for emergency supply as Britain battles a new, highly contagious variant of the virus.

Most markets in the region were subdued due to thin volumes in a holiday-shortened week. The German DAX was flat, while French and Spanish stocks slipped 0.1% each.

Unicaja rose more than 2% and Liberbank was down 3.6% after they announced an all-in share deal that would create Spain’s fifth-biggest bank with around 110 billion euros ($134.71 billion) in assets. (Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)