Bloomberg and Reuters
European equities fell, posting their worst weekly decline since mid-June, on mounting concern that the rise in COVID-19 cases would hamper the region’s economic recovery. Banks slid to a record low.
The STOXX Europe 600 on Friday closed down 0.1 percent at 355.51, and is down 3.6 percent this week as countries including the UK and France tighten their virus rules, and former hotspots such as the Spanish capital of Madrid report rising hospitalizations.
The STOXX 600 Banks Index declined for a seventh straight day, closing at the lowest level since its creation in 1991, hit by concerns over coronavirus-related lockdowns, low interest rates and bad loans.
Democrats in the US House of Representatives have started drafting a stimulus proposal of roughly US$2.4 trillion, just as economists were expressing doubts over whether additional funding would be seen this year.
“We think it makes sense to stay positioned for continued recovery and further cyclical outperformance, but the argument has become more balanced,” Bank of America Corp strategists led by Sebastian Raedler wrote in a note on Friday.
“The downside risks have increased,” they said.
UBS Global Wealth Management’s chief investment officer Mark Haefele said that “overall, we maintain our constructive outlook for equities over the coming months, while acknowledging that markets will likely be choppy.”
Meanwhile in London, a nearly 44 percent surge in bookmaker William Hill PLC on takeover offers lifted consumer stocks, helping UK shares outperform European peers and end a tumultuous week on a high note.
Without disclosing the value, buyout firm Apollo Global Management Inc and US casino operator Caesars Entertainment Inc made offers for the British betting firm, shares of which rose 43.47 percent on Friday to ￡312.20.
“William Hill had been one of the big gainers since March among UK equities… The news of course has done what bid approaches always do, namely lift the rest of the sector as well,” IG Group PLC chief market analyst Chris Beauchamp said.
London’s mid-caps index end up 1.4 percent in its best day in three weeks.
The blue-chip FTSE 100 index rose 0.34 percent, but losses for miners and oil stocks, which tracked commodity prices lower, and banks, which extended losses to a fourth straight session, kept gains in check.
It was down 2.74 percent from a week earlier.
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