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European shares edged up to a five-week high on Tuesday, taking heart from Wall Street hitting record highs overnight, even as Omicron worries remained with France tightening curbs and COVID-19 cases surging in Spain and Britain.

The pan-European STOXX 600 rose 0.3% as of 0822 GMT after adding 0.6% in the previous session to notch a more than one-month high.

Defensive stocks including healthcare and industrials led gains, with almost all sectors trading in positive territory.

Spain's coronavirus infection rate exceeded 1,000 cases per 100,000 people for the first time on Monday, stoked by the fast-spreading Omicron variant.

While England will not get any new COVID-19 restrictions before the end of 2021, the French government said it would tighten measures, though there will be no curfew for New Year's Eve. The blue-chip CAC 40 rose 0.2% in early trade.

Swiss specialty chemicals maker Clariant said it will purchase assets from German competitor BASF in North America in a $60 million deal that will help grow its sustainable business. BASF and Clariant shares rose 0.3% each.

Shares of Telecom Italia also edged up 0.3% after an Italian ministry said it would use a proposal presented by a consortium that includes the company as a blueprint in the national cloud tender it plans to launch in the first weeks of 2022.

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