European Equities Dip On COVID-19 Fears

European stock markets dipped Tuesday on stubborn coronavirus fears, with London hit by a worse-than-expected UK growth contraction and gloomy corporate news from energy major Royal Dutch Shell.

London fell 0.5 percent with sentiment dented also after officials reimposed lockdown measures in the central English city of Leicester.

In the eurozone, Madrid and Milan each fell 0.3 percent, while Paris flatlined and Frankfurt gained 0.3 percent.

The British capital’s FTSE 100 index dropped after Shell unexpectedly warned it would take a vast charge of up to $22 billion (19.6 billion euros) owing to the recent oil price collapse caused by crashing demand.

The news sent Shell’s ‘A’ share price tumbling 2.5 percent to 1,305.5 pence in London, while rival BP stock shed 1.7 percent to 309.50 pence.

“The FTSE 100 (has been) particularly hard-hit thanks to a warning from Shell which has driven that heavily-weighted stock and its peer BP firmly into the red,” said IG analyst Chris Beauchamp.

“In a world of falling oil demand and a bigger push towards renewables, these energy titans increasingly look like creatures from another era.”

Britain’s economy has meanwhile suffered its biggest quarterly contraction for more than 40 years as the coronavirus pandemic slashed activity, with GDP shrinking 2.2 percent in the first quarter.

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Elsewhere, there were stock market gains across Asia, where positive Chinese and US economic data helped offset a pick-up in virus infections and the reimposition of containment measures in some countries.

The easing of lockdowns in recent months has been a key catalyst for world equities as investors — supported by a wall of government and central bank cash — bet on a sharp recovery from what is expected to be a global recession this year.

Wall Street provided a healthy lead, helped by news of a record 44-percent on-month jump in US pending home sales in June, as well as a massive improvement in manufacturing activity as reported by the Dallas Federal Reserve.

On Tuesday, China said its purchasing managers index (PMI) of factory activity improved on May and beat forecasts, while the non-manufacturing reading was also better than hoped.

The data provided hope of an economic rebound, helped by the reopening of businesses around the world.

In Hong Kong, traders were keeping a nervous eye on Wednesday’s anniversary of the handover to China, fearing fresh clashes as Beijing passed a controversial security law banning subversion, secession and terrorism that critics fear will demolish the business hub’s cherished political freedoms.

Oil prices dipped Tuesday on virus demand concerns and the prospect of a return to Libyan production, dealers said.

Crude futures had collapsed in the first quarter, with WTI briefly turning negative as the COVID-19 pandemic ravaged the world’s appetite for oil.

– Key figures around 1100 GMT –

London – FTSE 100: DOWN 0.5 percent at 6,192.86 points

Frankfurt – DAX 30: UP 0.3 percent at 12,265.06

Paris – CAC 40: FLAT at 4,947.06

Madrid – IBEX 35: DOWN 0.3 percent at 7,255.70

Milan – FTSE Mib: DOWN 0.3 percent at 19,384.24

EURO STOXX 50: FLAT at 3,232.17

Tokyo – Nikkei 225: UP 1.3 percent at 22,288.14 (close)

Hong Kong – Hang Seng: UP 0.5 percent at 24,427.19 (close)

Shanghai – Composite: UP 0.8 percent at 2,984.67 (close)

New York – Dow: UP 2.3 percent at 25,595.80 (close)

West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 1.5 percent at $39.09 per barrel

Brent North Sea crude: DOWN 1.5 percent at $41.10 per barrel

Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.1223 from $1.1242 at 2100 GMT

Dollar/yen: UP at 107.66 yen from 107.58 yen

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.2279 from $1.2298

Euro/pound: UNCHANGED at 91.41 pence.


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