Global stocks advanced amid signs of improving economic growth in the U.S., Europe and Japan. Strong corporate earnings in some sectors and mergers-and-acquisitions activity also helped to support stock prices. Investor sentiment remained optimistic despite rising political uncertainty as election season approaches in Europe.
Defensive stocks generally outpaced economically sensitive sectors. Health care stocks enjoyed particularly strong gains, rebounding from depressed levels as U.S. political leaders debated sweeping changes to the nation’s health care system. The consumer staples sector also moved higher, driven in part by M&A. Energy stocks declined on disappointing earnings, flat oil prices and oversupply concerns.