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Pandemic restrictions weigh on European shares

10/19/2020 | 12:55pm EST
The German share price index DAX graph at the stock exchange in Frankfurt

(Reuters) - European shares ended lower on Monday as surging COVID-19 cases raised the possibility of further economic restrictions, outweighing optimism from signs of progress on a Brexit trade deal and hopes of fiscal stimulus in the United States. As daily COVID-19 cases in Italy hit a new record over the weekend, the country approved shutting public squares from 9 p.m. to halt gatherings. In Spain, many regions toughened curbs as the country looked set to set breach 1 million cases this week.

While Wales imposed a two-week lockdown, Britain's government scientific adviser said the country needs to impose a three-week period of national lockdown. "With Wales, Spain, and Belgium all tightening restrictions further... we are seeing significant fears arise over the potential economic impact this could have upon the recovery," said Joshua Mahony, senior market analyst at online trader IG.

"The lockdown in Wales does highlight the potential path forward for others, with more localised action looking a precursor to more drastic measures." A surging pound added to woes for London's FTSE 100 led losses, down 0.6%.

The currency rose after the European Union said it is ready to intensify talks towards a deal on future trade ties with Britain.

Tech major SAP weighed on Germany's DAX, while France CAC 40 turned to losses at close. Exchange operator Euronext resumed trading after it fixed a technical glitch that froze all transactions in Paris, Amsterdam, Brussels and Lisbon for more than three hours.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index closed down 0.3% after trading flat in the second half. Hopes of a COVID-19 vaccine by year-end, and signs an agreement in Washington on a fiscal package could be reached soon, had buoyed sentiment in morning trade.

At the top of STOXX 600 was Swiss wealth manager Julius Baer which jumped 6% after it indicated an improvement in profitability for the first nine months of 2020.

The broader financial services sector rose 1%, with Credit Suisse and UBS rising 4.4% and 3%, respectively.European third-quarter earnings are forecast to recover from a pandemic-led slump, with analysts expecting companies on the STOXX 600 to report an average 36.7% drop, compared with a 51% drop in the previous quarter, according to Refinitiv data.

Nokia posted its best session in over two months after it was selected by NASA to build the first cellular network on the moon.

Swedish defence company Saab sank 14.3% after it reported a fall in third-quarter profit and could not confirm its previous financial outlook for the year.

(Reporting by Sruthi Shankar and Susan Mathew in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila and Lisa Shumaker)

By Sruthi Shankar and Susan Mathew

© Reuters 2020
Stocks mentioned in the article
ChangeLast1st jan.
CAC 40 0.02% 5583.01 Real-time Quote.-6.63%
CREDIT SUISSE GROUP AG 0.21% 11.665 Delayed Quote.-11.18%
DAX -0.52% 13313.24 Delayed Quote.0.48%
EURO / BRITISH POUND (EUR/GBP) -0.06% 0.9055 Delayed Quote.6.36%
EURO STOXX 50 -0.11% 3521.32 Delayed Quote.-5.87%
EURONEXT N.V. 1.40% 90.4 Real-time Quote.24.43%
JULIUS BÄR GRUPPE AG -2.76% 51.52 Delayed Quote.6.11%
MSCI UNITED KINGDOM (STRD, UHD) 1.04% 1009.276 Real-time Quote.-16.09%
NOKIA OYJ -0.75% 3.3115 Delayed Quote.1.23%
SAAB AB 2.99% 230.6 Delayed Quote.-28.65%
SAP SE 0.08% 101.3 Delayed Quote.-15.81%
STOXX EUROPE 600 -0.05% 391.69 Delayed Quote.-5.76%
UBS GROUP AG -0.88% 12.89 Delayed Quote.6.38%
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