Swiss index, FTSE hit records as European stocks jump

LONDON (Reuters) – European shares powered higher on Friday, with the British and Swiss benchmarks hitting records, propelled by optimism for a strengthening regional economy and gains in U.S. equities overnight.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index was up 0.4 percent, holding at a two-month high, while Euro zone blue chips .STOXX50E advanced 0.5 percent, building on strong gains in the previous session.

The first trading week of the new year was shaping up to be the best for Euro zone stocks .STOXXE since last May, as the index has shrugged off a strengthening of the single currency that can dampen export earnings.

U.S. jobs numbers on Thursday showed U.S. private employers added more jobs than expected in December, propelling the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI past the 25,000-mark for the first time.

Euro zone stocks were set for a weekly gain of 2.5 percent.

Markets outside of the Euro zone saw several record levels broken. Switzerland’s blue chip SMI .SSMI index rose 0.4 percent to a record high, while Britain’s FTSE 100 .FTSE jumped to another record.

UK big caps were supported by a muted pound as big international health stocks and consumer staples added the most to gains.

European autos .SXAP was the top-gaining sector, up 1 percent, while almost every other sector traded in positive territory.

Among single stocks, Dialog Semiconductor (DLGS.DE) saw its shares tumble 6.6 percent to the bottom of the STOXX after top customer Apple (AAPL.O) said that its products were hit by a chip flaw.

Reporting by Kit Rees; editing by Tom Pfeiffer

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UPDATE 1-UK Stocks-Factors to watch on Jan 5

European stocks bounce sees Swiss index, FTSE hit records