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European stocks slide as surge in virus cases hits rebound hopes

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07/03/2020 | 01:02pm EDT
The German share price index DAX graph is pictured at the stock exchange in Frankfurt

By Sruthi Shankar

European stocks fell on Friday after gaining ground during the week as a surge in U.S. coronavirus cases made investors less optimistic about prospects for a rebound in the global economy.

After opening largely flat, the pan-European STOXX 600 index lost ground as the session wore on, with personal & household goods makers, miners, automakers and banks <.SX7P> leading declines.

The benchmark index closed down 0.8%, with trading volumes thin because of a U.S. market holiday. The index logged a 2% weekly gain.

Hopes of a COVID-19 vaccine and signs of the global economy recovering from the health crisis supported markets this week, but investors have become less optimistic about further gains as the United States set a new daily global record for COVID-19 cases on Thursday.

"The fear of another big(ger) drop in equity prices continues to haunt financial markets. The opportunity to engage in European assets also seems a bit limited," Thomas Flury, head of FX Strategies at UBS Global Wealth Management wrote to clients.

"For this, clearer signs of a recovery in international trade should be visible. The data on this is constructive, but not surprising to the upside."

A private survey showed that China's services sector expanded at the fastest pace in over a decade in June as the easing of lockdown measures revived consumer demand, though companies continued to shed jobs.

A final reading of euro zone business activity showed a coronavirus-inflicted plunge eased sharply last month as more businesses reopened and people ventured out.

But there are doubts about the pace of the recovery with some countries in Europe reimposing restrictions due to a surge in COVID-19 cases.

In France, President Emmanuel Macron named Jean Castex, a top civil servant and local mayor who orchestrated the country's coronavirus lockdown exit strategy, as his new prime minister as he acted to win back voters. France's CAC 40 ended down 0.8%, in-line with the broader markets.

Among individual movers, Germany's Delivery Hero rose 4.7% after the takeaway food company said its order growth nearly doubled in the second quarter.

France's utility firm EDF jumped 5.6% after it revised upwards its 2020 nuclear output target.

UK retailer Next fell 4.6% after Goldman Sachs downgraded the stock to "sell", while Primark-owner AB Foods slipped 0.9% after the U.S. bank downgraded its stock to "neutral".

(Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Devika Syamnath, Sriraj Kalluvila and Jane Merriman)

Stocks mentioned in the article
ChangeLast1st jan.
ASSOCIATED BRITISH FOODS PLC 1.09% 1857 Delayed Quote.-28.52%
CAC 40 1.04% 4821.91 Real-time Quote.-19.84%
DELIVERY HERO SE 4.51% 93.7 Delayed Quote.32.79%
ELECTRICITÉ DE FRANCE 0.77% 8.674 Real-time Quote.-13.30%
ENGIE 1.12% 11.275 Real-time Quote.-22.50%
EURO STOXX 50 0.10% 3164.13 Delayed Quote.-15.60%
NEXT PLC 1.38% 6016 Delayed Quote.-14.65%
STOXX EUROPE 600 0.20% 357.55 Delayed Quote.-14.19%
STOXX EUROPE 600 NR 0.21% 785.78 Delayed Quote.-12.62%
THE GOLDMAN SACHS GROUP, INC. -1.23% 191.62 Delayed Quote.-16.66%
UBS GROUP AG -0.19% 10.285 Delayed Quote.-15.87%
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