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Oct 27, 2020

European Markets Closing Report: European markets close lower with virus, earnings in focus


Elliot Smith

LONDON — European stocks closed lower Tuesday as investors continued to monitor the rapid spread of coronavirus across the continent and digested a fresh round of major corporate earnings.

.FTSEFTSE 100FTSE5737.49-54.52-0.94516616538
.FCHICAC 40 IndexCAC4740.31-75.81-1.5774741764

The pan-European Stoxx 600 closed 0.8% provisionally, with oil and gas stocks shedding more than 2% down 2% to lead losses. Tech shares struggled to claw back from their 7.4% plunge on Monday, down around 0.2% by Tuesday’s close.

European stocks struggled to recover from Monday’s sell-off as soaring global coronavirus cases, including in major European countries, and further delays to a potential U.S. stimulus bill hammered sentiment.

Stateside, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has reiterated hopes that a deal with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on a new coronavirus relief bill is still possible before next Tuesday’s presidential election, but key differences remain and slow progress has put markets on edge.

New record rises in daily Covid-19 cases have been seen in the U.S., Russia and France in recent days, while the U.K. is set to extend its highest category alert to more cities and German Chancellor Angela Merkel has warned colleagues that Germany is on the verge of losing control of the virus, according to The Guardian.

There has, however, been some promising news on the vaccine front. British pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca on Monday said its potential Covid-19 vaccine has produced a similar immune response in older and younger adults.

The U.K. has warned that time is running out as the European Union’s top negotiator Michel Barnier travels to London to continue Brexit talks, with the two sides differing strongly on key issues in their bid to secure a new trading arrangement by year-end.

Earnings in focus

Santander on Tuesday projected an improvement of core profits for 2020 and reported a trebling of statutory net profit in the third quarter compared to a year ago. The Spanish lender’s shares climbed 1.5% by mid-afternoon trade, while HSBC’s London-listed shares added 4.3% following its convincing third-quarter profit beat.

German chemicals company Brenntag added 7.2% after announcing job cuts, while at the top of the Stoxx 600, Swedish Orphan Biovitrum jumped 7.4%.

At the bottom of the index, Rheinmetall dropped 7.5% after Janus Henderson placed 1.2 million shares, according to Reuters. Austrian retail bank Bawag fell 6.4% after a downbeat earnings report.

Oil major BP reported a third-quarter underlying replacement cost profit, used as a proxy for net profit, of $100 million, compared with a loss of $6.7 billion in the second quarter and $2.3 billion profit for the third quarter of 2019. BP stock reversed course to trade 1.3% lower by the afternoon.

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