European stocks lose steam after five-day rally

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The pan-European STOXX 600 index (STOXX) was down 0.1% by 0818 GMT after a five-day winning run that put the index on course for its best week since early April.

France, already under a national lockdown, set a daily record for COVID-19 cases for the second time in four days, and Italy also registered its highest ever daily tally on Thursday.

Also weighing on the markets, technology (SX8P) and healthcare (SXDP) heavyweights fell after strong gains this week.

U.S. Democrat Joe Biden was moving closer to victory over Republican President Donald Trump in the race for White House, but the outcome was unclear with votes still being tallied and Trump falsely claiming the election was being “stolen” from him.

Insurers (SXIP) got a boost after Germany’s Allianz (DE:ALVG) rose 2.8% after it reported an surprise 6% rise in third-quarter net profit.

A multi-billion dollar deal involving RSA (L:RSA), Canadian insurer Intact Financial (TO:IFC) and Danish insurer Tryg (CO:TRYG) also lifted the sector.