Nov 18, 2020

European Markets Closing Report: European markets close higher with vaccine rally, virus spread in focus


Elliot Smith, Holly Ellyatt

LONDON — European stocks closed higher on Wednesday as investors weigh up positive coronavirus vaccine announcements and the ongoing spread of the virus.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 closed up over 0.4%, with autos stocks climbing 1.3% to lead gains as most sectors and major bourses inched into positive territory following a muted morning's trade.

The stall in global markets began on Tuesday, with European stocks closing lower despite the backdrop of more positive coronavirus vaccine news from Moderna, which announced on Monday that preliminary data showed its coronavirus vaccine was more than 94% effective at preventing Covid-19. That news had come after Pfizer and BioNTech's vaccine candidate was found to be more than 90% effective.

On Wednesday, Pfizer said final analysis had shown its vaccine was 95% effective and would be submitted to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for approval within days. However, both vaccine makers face significant challenges when it comes to mass production.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose, boosted by a pop in Boeing shares, while investors digested more positive news on the coronavirus vaccine front.

U.S. retail sales came in lower than expected for October as millions of Americans lost their unemployment benefits amid the surge in coronavirus cases. The U.S. 7-day average of daily new Covid-19 infections surpassed 150,000 for the first time on Monday, according to a CNBC analysis of Johns Hopkins data.

Maersk, the world's largest container shipping firm, matched third-quarter profit expectations on Wednesday amid a stronger-than-expected pickup in demand. The company's shares edged nearly 1% lower.

German stock exchange operator Deutsche Boerse on Wednesday announced a $1.8 billion deal for an 80% stake in Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS). Deutsche Boerse's shares climbed over 2% on the news.

French investment company Eurazeo jumped nearly 6% after selling its stake in cosmetics company Iberchem, while gaming company Ubisoft jumped 2% on the back of an upbeat sales update for its new Assassin's Creed Valhalla game.

At the other end of the European blue chip index, British steam management system manufacturer Spirax-Sarco fell around 4% after its third-quarter trading update.

- staff contributed to this market report.

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