European Stocks Lower; Third Covid Wave Derails Recovery Hopes

This post was originally published on this site – European stock markets weakened Friday, as a rise in Covid-19 cases and associated lockdowns weighed on recovery hopes.

At 3:55 AM ET (0855 GMT), the DAX in Germany traded 0.3% lower, the CAC 40 in France dropped 0.6% and the U.K.’s FTSE index fell 0.6%.

The growth outlook in Europe is weakening as a third wave of Covid-19 infections leads to further mobility restrictions, further delaying the economic recovery. 

Germany, the largest EU country in terms of population, recorded Thursday the biggest daily rise in confirmed coronavirus cases since Jan. 22. In addition, France said it would put eight regions, including the Ile de France region around Paris, back into a tighter form of lockdown for a month to stop the disease’s spread, while much of Italy is already shut down.

The EU drugs regulator did confirm Thursday that the benefits of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine outweighed the risks, but the earlier suspension of the use of this drug by a number of European countries has been another factor slowing what is already a sluggish vaccination rollout across the EU.

Adding to Friday’s woes was a negative handover from Wall Street, after the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite index closed 3% lower Thursday with a spike in U.S. bond yields prompting investors to sell these stocks with very high valuations. 

The yield on benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury notes stood at 1.69% Friday, after spiking late Thursday to 1.75%, the highest since early 2020, a day after the Federal Reserve raised its growth and inflation forecasts but stated it would maintain its very accommodative monetary policies through 2023.

Oil & gas companies led the declines, with BP (NYSE:BP) stock down 2.1%, Eni (MI:ENI) stock fell 1.4% and Total  (PA:TOTF) stock fell 0.8% after crude prices slumped overnight amid worries over the new lockdowns and thus the slow growth to global demand.

Elsewhere, Barclays (LON:BARC) stock fell 1.3% despite the U.K. bank launching a  700 million pounds ($975 million) stock buyback plan, while British pub chain J D Wetherspoon (LON:JDW) stock fell 1.5% after reporting a first-half 2021 loss as the pandemic and associated lockdowns severely hit revenues. NatWest Group stock, however, rose 1.3% to a post-pandemic high after saying that the government had reduced its stake by around 1.1 billion pounds ($1.5 billion).

IAG (LON:ICAG) stock fell 1.9%, despite reports of the owner of British Airways mulling a sale of its headquarters building to raise cash  

U.S. crude futures have rebounded to a degree, and traded 1.5% higher at $60.95 a barrel, while the Brent contract rose 1.4% to $64.19. However, the contracts have still dropped more than 7% each this week, and are on course for the biggest weekly loss since October.

Elsewhere, gold futures rose 0.6% to $1,743.05/oz, while EUR/USD traded 0.1% higher at 1.1921.