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European stocks sluggish as COVID-19 cases rise

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Sept 25 (Reuters) - Telecom stocks nudged European stocks slightly higher on Friday, but the main indexes were on course for sharp weekly declines as the continent grapples with a fresh wave of COVID-19 cases.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index rose 0.2% by 0715 GMT, with telecom stocks jumping 0.8% to lead sectoral gains.

Spanish telephone operator MasMovil rose 0.7% after a local newspaper reported that Vodafone has started talks to buy the company. Vodafone gained 1.3%.

France’s CAC40 fell 0.4% after the country set a new record of daily COVID-19 infections and prime minister warned on Thursday that the government could be forced to reconfine areas.

The German DAX slipped 0.3% and UK’s FTSE 100 was flat.

In a volatile week marked by worries about coronavirus restrictions hampering the European economic recovery and continued unwinding of bullish bets in U.S. tech firms, the STOXX 600 benchmark was set for its worst week in over three months.

Paris Match publisher Lagardere surged 10.4% after billionaire Bernard Arnault revealed he had built up a direct stake in the firm, which is under siege from several other investors. (Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)

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