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European Stocks Drift Lower With U.S. Markets Shut

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07/03/2020 | 12:26pm EDT

By Avantika Chilkoti

European stocks fell Friday, with investors taking stock of a surge in coronavirus infections in the U.S. that could impede the global economic recovery.

The pan-continental Stoxx Europe 600 declined 0.8%, curtailing its advance this week to just under 2%. In Asia, most major equity benchmarks closed higher. Trading volumes were down as American markets were shut for the Independence Day holiday.

U.S. stock futures wobbled, with contracts linked to the Dow Jones Industrial Average ticking down 0.6%. The gauge for blue-chips stocks ended the week up 3.3% ahead of the Fourth of July weekend. The broader S&P 500 climbed 4% for its best weekly performance in four, while growth stocks propelled the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite up 4.6%.

Coronavirus cases in the U.S. rose to another single-day high, crossing 52,000 new infections on Thursday. The country's death toll topped 128,700, making the U.S. the worst-hit nation globally. The resurgence has led to calls for caution and cancellations of festivities, and beaches in parts of Florida and California have been closed for the holiday weekend.

Investors are balancing worries about the rising infection level, which may prompt more stringent lockdowns and stall the economic recovery, with signs of a revival in business activity. Unemployment fell in the U.S. and the economy regained 4.8 million jobs in June, according to data released Thursday, but the recent surge in infections could throw that recovery off course.

"You get some dead-cat bounce in the data and that makes people think the economy is recovering and maybe it'll be V-shaped, but then you have record infections," said Lyn Graham-Taylor, a rates strategist at Rabobank. "You're having to take everything with a pinch of salt because we're coming off such a low base, of course everything looks good."

In commodities, Brent crude, the international benchmark for oil prices, fell 1% to $42.73 a barrel, amid concerns about the economic outlook and demand for energy. The surge in new cases in the U.S. has centered on southern states, which are particularly large consumers of gasoline.

China's Shanghai Composite Index rallied 2% by the end of the Asian trading day. A private gauge of China's service-sector activity surged to the highest level in more than a decade in June, according to new data out Friday, as the easing of virus-control measures in most parts of the country drove demand.

Elsewhere in Asia, Japan's Nikkei 225 benchmark gained 0.7% and Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index climbed almost 1%.

Write to Avantika Chilkoti at Avantika.Chilkoti@wsj.com


Stocks mentioned in the article
ChangeLast1st jan.
DJ INDUSTRIAL 0.12% 27931.02 Delayed Quote.-2.25%
HANG SENG -0.16% 25185.34 Real-time Quote.-10.52%
LONDON BRENT OIL -0.53% 44.93 Delayed Quote.-31.35%
NASDAQ 100 -0.12% 11164.446946 Delayed Quote.28.00%
NASDAQ COMP. -0.21% 11019.300969 Delayed Quote.23.07%
NIKKEI 225 0.17% 23289.36 Real-time Quote.-1.72%
S&P 500 -0.02% 3372.85 Delayed Quote.4.42%
S&P/CITIC 300 INDEX 0.02% 4086.93 Delayed Quote.13.46%
S&P/CITIC 50 INDEX 0.02% 3969.33 Delayed Quote.4.70%
SHANGHAI STOCK EXCHANGE B SHARES INDEX 0.81% 239.1039 Real-time Quote.-7.64%
STOXX EUROPE 600 -1.20% 368.07 Delayed Quote.-10.42%
STOXX EUROPE 600 NR -1.19% 808.05 Delayed Quote.-8.88%
WTI -0.52% 42.2 Delayed Quote.-30.68%
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