Elliot Smith,Holly Ellyatt
European stocks closed slightly higher on Wednesday as investors reacted to the U.S. presidential debate, and gauged the investment landscape amid the coronavirus crisis.
The pan-European Stoxx 600 provisionally marginally in positive territory, having fluctuated since the open, with banks adding over 1%, while industrials slipped 0.5%.
The first U.S. presidential debate between incumbent President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden could be weighing on investor sentiment worldwide, with the two constantly exchanging sharp remarks in a face-to-face challenge.
Hardly a minute went by in the 90-minute brawl without one of the candidates angrily interrupting the other, whether on the coronavirus pandemic, the Supreme Court, the economy, or anything else, including each other’s families. For highlights from the debate, click here.
European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde on Wednesday hinted at a tweak to the bank’s inflation target, as it undergoes a policy review while trying to shore up the bloc’s economic recovery.
U.S. stock futures declined early Wednesday morning as traders digested the debate, while it also soured sentiment in Asia-Pacific markets that traded mixed overnight.
Investors also reacted to the release of China’s manufacturing activity data for September which came in at 51.5, above analysts’ expectations and slightly higher than August’s 51.0 figure, according to the country’s National Bureau of Statistics. PMI readings above 50 indicate expansion from the previous month, while those below that figure signal a contraction.
Meanwhile, in coronavirus developments, Regeneron said its REGN-COV2 drug reduced viral levels and improved symptoms in non-hospitalized coronavirus patients.
In terms of individual share price movement, Suez climbed 5.1% by early afternoon trade after Veolia upped its bid for a stake in the French utility company to $4 billion.
At the other end of the European blue-chip index, TP Icap shares plunged more than 15.8% after the British intermediary firm announced that it is in talks to buy trading network Liquidnet.
-CNBC.com staff contributed to this market report.
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