Europe Markets: European stocks and U.S. equity futures fight for traction amid worries over rising COVID-19 cases

Europe Markets: European stocks and U.S. equity futures fight for traction amid worries over rising COVID-19 cases

18 Nov    Finance News

A pedestrian wearing a face mask or covering due to the COVID-19 pandemic, walks past a Christmas-themed window display on Oxford Street in central London on November 17, 2020.

AFP via Getty Images

European stocks and U.S. equity futures struggled near the flat line on Wednesday, as investor worries continued to simmer over rising coronavirus cases worldwide and the effect on economies in coming months.

The Stoxx Europe 600 SXXP, +0.07% was flat at 388.69 after snapping a two-day winning steak on Tuesday. The German DAX DAX, +0.05% and French CAC 40 PX1, +0.03% traded in similar fashion, while the FTSE 100 UKX, -0.33% dropped 0.3%.

U.S. equity futures YM00, +0.17% ES00, +0.09% NQ00, +0.13% were mostly flat. Stocks took a breather on Tuesday, though major indexes finished off their worst levels. Losses came as data showed disappointing retail sales growth, which appeared to overshadow recent upbeat news on the effectiveness of vaccines in development.

Cases of the virus have been surging on both sides of the Atlantic, though European countries may be starting to get a handle on it, as restrictive measures have been in place for weeks in many places. Measures are beginning to appear across several U.S. states.

European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde said Tuesday that upbeat vaccine news would not fundamentally change the central banks plan to add stimulus.

“I don’t want to downplay the very good news that the vaccines were, but I think that as a central bank, we have to be mindful of not just the short term and the news impact, we have to be mindful of the overall situation,” Lagarde told the Bloomberg New Economy Forum .

One risk, she noted, was if “consumers, investors and employers do not regard the pandemic as a one-off, this V-shape that we all aspired to, but as something that will recur over the course of time and as a result would lead them to completely change their behavior.”

Meanwhlie, the European Automobile Manufacturers Association reported a 7.8% drop in October sales, after a small gain in September. Auto sales struggled amid new restrictions to stop the virus across the region.

U.K. data showed a rise in annual consumer-price inflation for October, a gain that was boosted by higher clothing prices.

Among companies on the move, shares of RSA Insurance RSA, +3.83% rose nearly 4% after the insurer said it has agreed to a £7.2 billion ($9.5 billion) takeover offer from Intact Financial IFC, +0.35% and Tryg TRYG, -1.50%. RSA confirmed details of that offer more than two weeks ago.

Shares of Compagnie Financiere Richemont CFR, -1.78% fell over 2% on Wednesday after the luxury goods maker said it had received shareholder approval for a conditional capital increase. The company plans to issue up to 22 million new A shares,

Air France-KLM shares fell over 3% after French newspaper Le Monde reported on Tuesday that the struggling airline is in talks to raise another €6 billion from two government stakeholders and investors.

Croda International CRDA, +2.26% said that it will buy Fragrance Spanish Topco SL–which operates as Iberchem — for 820 million euros ($972.7 million). The chemicals company said it will fund the transaction via existing debt facilities and an equity placing. Shares rose 1.8%.

A.P. Moeller-Maersk MAERSK.B, -1.38% announced a 10 billion Danish kroner ($1.59 billion) share-buyback program after the Danish shipping giant reporting an earnings rebound on surging demand. Shares fell over 1%.

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