European Shares Mixed Amid Virus Fears
(RTTNews) - European stocks were struggling for direction on Friday, with travel-related stocks coming under selling pressure amid worries about the second wave of coronavirus infections in the region.
Spain is currently battling a resurgent second wave of Covid-19 although the mortality levels are far lower than they were in spring.
Leading scientists advising the U.K. government have proposed a two-week national lockdown in October to try to tackle the rising number of coronavirus cases.
Surging coronavirus figures across Europe should serve as "a wake-up call", Dr. Hans Kluge, regional director of The World Health Organization in Europe, said on Thursday.
The number of new cases had doubled in more than half of European member states in the past two weeks and we have a very serious situation unfolding before us, he added.
The Stoxx Europe 600 index edged up 0.1 percent to 371.77 after ending half a percent lower the previous day.
The German DAX rose 0.3 percent while the U.K.'s FTSE 100 slid 0.1 percent and French stocks were marginally lower.
Swiss drug maker Roche Group rose over 2 percent. The company announced the launch of its Elecsys Anti-SARS-CoV-2 S antibody test for markets accepting the CE Mark.
Swedish telecom equipment maker Ericsson advanced 1.7 percent. The company announced its agreement to acquire U.S.-based Cradlepoint for an enterprise value of $1.1 billion.
Spanish bank Bankia SA fell about 3 percent on merger news.
Travel stocks were among the worst hit. International Consolidated Airlines Group plunged over 10 percent, easyJet slumped 7.2 percent and InterContinental Hotels Group lost 5 percent. France KLM lost 2.8 percent and Lufthansa gave up 4 percent.
Investec gave up 3.3 percent. The banking and wealth management group said it expects adjusted earnings per share for the first-half of 2021 to be between 10.5 pence and 8.3 pence, which will be 64 percent to 71 percent behind last year as a result of the de-merger of the asset management business in March 2020.
Man Group rallied 2.2 percent after announcing a new share buyback program.
Euronext NV shares surged 4.3 percent. The London Stock Exchange Group said it has entered talks with the exchange group for the sale of Italy's Borsa Italiana.
Shares of Covestro surged nearly 7 percent after Bloomberg reported that buyout firm Apollo Global Management Inc. is exploring a takeover of the specialty chemicals company.
In economic news, data from the Office for National Statistics showed that U.K. retail sales grew for the fourth straight month in August but the pace of expansion slowed markedly.
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