December 19, 2017 / 8:36 AM / 9 months ago

European stocks build momentum as investors await U.S. tax bill

LONDON, Dec 19 (Reuters) - European shares followed U.S. and Asian markets higher on Tuesday as investors awaited a long-anticipated U.S. tax reform bill which looks almost certain to pass this week.

The pan-European STOXX 600 traded 0.2 percent higher at a new five-week high, maintaining Monday’s momentum though gains were more muted, with euro zone stocks and blue-chips up 0.1 percent.

Britain’s FTSE 100 gained 0.3 percent, boosted by its weighting towards defensive, high dividend-paying stocks which investors favour when they sense uncertainty.

German fashion house Hugo Boss led European gainers, its shares rising 4.8 percent after CEO Mark Langer told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper that Boss aimed to grow faster than the market in 2018.

Shares in Anglo-South African financial services group Old Mutual gained 4.6 percent after saying it would sell its Buxton UK wealth business to TA Associates for $800 million as part of a planned break-up.

Intrum Justitia fell 6.3 percent after saying its CFO would leave the company.

Telecoms stocks were strong performers, boosted by a note from Morgan Stanley arguing the industry could fare better in 2018 thanks to successful cost cutting, stronger mobile revenue growth and lower cash tax rates.

Telcos have been among the worst performing sectors this year, down 2.5 percent from January.

With fewer big corporate stories to drive trading on Tuesday, investors will hone in on Germany’s Ifo business survey data, out at 0900 GMT.

SocGen analysts expected the business climate indicator to rise further from record highs, indicating a resilient economy with momentum for further gains into 2018. (Reporting by Helen Reid; editing by Tom Pfeiffer)

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