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European stocks slide in risk-off mood, M&A talk lifts Italian banks

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09/24/2020 | 01:54pm EDT
The German share price index DAX graph at the stock exchange in Frankfurt

European stocks slid on Thursday, with UK markets leading the way after Britain's government launched a scaled-back job support programme, while a second wave of COVID-19 cases across the continent dampened investor sentiment.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index fell 1.0% to close at its lowest level since Aug 3, with the retail, oil & gas and financial services sectors falling the most.

Investor fears about the resurgence of COVID-19 denting the European economic recovery have dominated trading this week as the UK, Spain and France imposed fresh restrictions, while U.S. Federal Reserve policymakers spooked markets on Wednesday by calling on the government to provide more fiscal support.

"Investor's expectations for a slow steady recovery have been tested in this month," Geir Lode, head of global equities, international at Federated Hermes wrote in a note.

"With the recent sentiment change in the market, it should be remembered that market volatility still exists. Exceptionally low interest rates and ample liquidity give investors few choices other than to invest in riskier assets."

M&A speculation drove a 1.3% rise in Italian banking stocks <.FTIT8300>, while the European banking index <.SX7P> slipped 0.4%.

Italy's third-largest bank Banco BPM jumped 5.8% and Credito Valtellinese surged 11.6%, with traders citing a Bloomberg report that suggested talks of possible takeover interest from French bank Credit Agricole.

Earlier, a Banco BPM spokeswoman said it was not in contact with bigger rival UniCredit over a potential merger, dismissing a press report. UniCredit rose 2.3%.

The STOXX 600 had cut losses earlier in the session after surveys showed business morale in Germany and France improved for the fifth month in a row in September, suggesting that both countries are set for strong growth in the third quarter.

The relief, however, proved temporary, with U.S. markets hesitating to rise after a surprise rise in weekly jobless claims. [.N]

The German DAX was down 0.3%, outperforming the regional indexes, while France's CAC 40 fell 0.8%.

UK's FTSE 100 lagged with a 1.3% drop, failing to draw cheer from a new job support plan. Under the "more targeted" programme, Finance minister Rishi Sunak said government support would only be available to workers whose employers keep them on at least a third of their normal hours.

British cinema operator Cineworld slumped 14.8% as it swung to a loss and said it may have to raise more money if pushed to shut its theatres again due to government curbs on social gathering.

By Sruthi Shankar


Stocks mentioned in the article
ChangeLast1st jan.
ASTRAZENECA PLC -0.05% 7876 Delayed Quote.3.59%
BANCO BPM S.P.A. -2.36% 1.513 Delayed Quote.-23.59%
CAC 40 -0.03% 4569.67 Real-time Quote.-20.87%
CINEWORLD GROUP PLC 6.70% 25.95 Delayed Quote.-88.90%
CREDITO VALTELLINESE S.P.A. -1.14% 6.05 Delayed Quote.8,495.51%
CRÉDIT AGRICOLE SA -0.89% 6.66 Real-time Quote.-48.01%
DAX 0.32% 11598.07 Delayed Quote.-12.74%
EURO STOXX 50 -0.12% 2960.03 Delayed Quote.-18.01%
FEDERATED HERMES, INC. 0.26% 22.74 Delayed Quote.-30.41%
LONDON BRENT OIL -3.92% 37.74 Delayed Quote.-38.33%
NOVARTIS AG -1.03% 71.11 Delayed Quote.-21.82%
ROCHE HOLDING AG -0.24% 293.9 Delayed Quote.-6.18%
STOXX EUROPE 600 -0.12% 341.76 Delayed Quote.-15.21%
STOXX EUROPE 600 NR -0.10% 751.88 Delayed Quote.-13.59%
UNICREDIT S.P.A. -0.89% 6.262 Delayed Quote.-51.47%
WTI -3.56% 36.26 Delayed Quote.-36.69%
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