European shares open at record high; fourth-quarter GDP data in sight

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(Reuters) – European shares inched up to a record high on Friday ahead of fourth-quarter GDP data from the EU, while concerns over the coronavirus outbreak eased after the World Health Organization downplayed a recent spike in cases.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index () rose as much as 0.1% to a record high of 431.42, eyeing a second straight week of gains following a relief rally earlier in the week.

Investors were awaiting the European Union’s fourth-quarter GDP flash estimates at 1000 GMT, which are expected to show the European economy barely expanding between October and December amid a manufacturing slump and global trade headwinds.

The virus outbreak could further hurt growth, given China’s position as one of the bloc’s largest trading partners.

Real estate () and utilities () were the best performing European sectors, rising 0.5% and 0.4%, respectively.

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