Por Sagarika Jaisinghani y Ambar Warrick
Jun 30 (Reuters) – European stocks closed lower on Wednesday as investors took gains after a five-month run of gains, and on concerns about a possible rebound in inflation and the Delta variant of the coronavirus .
* The pan-European STOXX 600 Index closed 0.8% lower at 452.84 points, but rose 1.4% in June, its fifth consecutive month of gains. The index has added 14.4% this year.
* The values of the automobile industry were the most affected of the day, with a fall of 1.9%. However, the sector has outperformed its peers this year with an increase of more than 25%.
* The European benchmark index stalled within a few points of its biggest percentage gain in the first six months of a year since 1998, and had its best first half since 2019, rising 13.5%.
* Healthcare sector values performed the best in June, with an increase of 6.7%, while expectations of a recovery in demand caused retail sector values to outperform the rest until June, with a jump close to 13%.
* Expectations of a strong recovery in economic growth have propelled the STOXX 600 to all-time highs this year. It has also marked a fifth consecutive quarter of earnings.
* Swiss bank UBS raised its 2021 GDP growth forecast in the euro zone to 5.1% from 4.3%, but warned that the Delta variant could be a risk.
* “While we have become even more positive about the growth outlook for the euro zone, we recognize the downside risk from the spread of the Delta variant of the coronavirus, which could force countries to slow down or even reverse the lifting of restrictions” Reinhard Cluse, UBS chief economist for Europe, wrote in a note.
* Concern about the Delta variant caused travel and leisure values to lag behind their peers in June, with a 4.9% loss.
(Report by Sagarika Jaisinghani and Ambar Warrick in Bengaluru; Edited in Spanish by Javier López de Lérida)