* UK markets closed for May Bank holiday
* German retail sales bounce in March
* Siemens Gamesa slides on forecast cut
May 3 (Reuters) - European stocks ended higher on Monday
after the European Commission outlined plans to loosen COVID-19
restrictions on tourism, while strong factory and retails sales
data and a robust corporate earnings season added to the
The euro zone stocks index, which consists of
markets in continental Europe, ended 0.6% higher, while the
pan-European STOXX 600 index added 0.6%.
European travel and leisure stocks rose 0.2% after
the European Commission recommended letting foreign travellers
from more countries enter the bloc, hoping to boost the stricken
tourism industry this summer.
But gains in the travel sector were limited due to a holiday
in UK markets, given that British stocks make up the
bulk of the sector. The UK holiday also kept trading volumes
thin across European markets.
Still, bourses in Italy, Germany and Spain
marked strong gains after a survey showed euro zone
factory activity growth reached a record high last month, while
German retail sales posted their biggest year-on-year increase
in March since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"COVID-19 infections are stabilizing in Germany and the
Netherlands, are on a downtrend in France and Italy, and appear
to be under control in Spain," analysts at BCA Research wrote in
"Meanwhile, vaccinations are gathering pace across the euro
area. This will allow authorities to ease restrictions and
economic activity to accelerate."
Europe's benchmark STOXX 600 had ended April with a 1.8%
rise, and just below its all-time high as a pick-up in European
vaccination drive and solid earnings reports boosted hopes of a
strong economic recovery.
Nearly half of the STOXX 600 companies have reported so far,
and 75% have topped profit estimates, as per Refinitiv IBES
data. Normally, 51% beat earnings expectations.
German health technology company Siemens Healthineers
rose 2% after it raised its full-year sales and profit
German airlines Lufthansa rose 2.6% following
plans to offer flights to more than 100 holiday destination,
Chief Executive Carsten Spohr told a German newspaper.
Wind turbine maker Siemens Gamesa fell 3.9% after
it warned it could earn less this year than previously expected.
Dutch telecommunications company KPN NV fell 2.6%
after it rejected unsolicited takeover offers from a private
equity consortium comprising EQT AB and Stonepeak
Infrastructure Partners and another from KKR.
(Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil