Europe Markets

European markets close higher as investors monitor virus spread and hope for stimulus

Key Points
  • The pan-European Stoxx 600 provisionally closed over 1% higher.
  • Market players continued to digest the Fed's emergency decision to cut interest rates by 50 basis points.
  • Hellofresh gained more than 8%, leading the Stoxx 600 after Barclays raised its target price.

European markets closed higher Wednesday after the U.S. Federal Reserve's surprise rate cut stirred hopes other major central banks could follow suit.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 provisionally closed over 1% higher. Utilities stocks led the gains, jumping over 3%, while travel and leisure shares bucked the trend to fall 2%.

Global market participants continued to digest the Fed announcing an emergency 50 basis point cut to interest rates on Tuesday. The rate cut was seen as a reaction to the global coronavirus outbreak but also increasing market anxiety over its spread.

In China, a total of 80,270 people have been infected, with 49,856 people discharged and 2,981 dead, according to government figures while South Korea's total confirmed cases stand at 5,328 as the death toll climbed to 32, according to KCDC data.

On Wall Street, share markets rallied on the back of major victories for former Vice President Joe Biden during Super Tuesday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up over 500 points while the Nasdaq and S&P 500 indexes were also positive.

On the data front, the final composite PMI (purchasing managers' index) for the euro zone came in at 51.6 in February, but the underlying surveys showed export demand falling and disruptions to supply chains beginning to take effect.

Biggest movers

Food delivery company Hellofresh gained more than 8%, leading the Stoxx 600 after Barclays raised its target price. Eurofins Scientific shares also jumped, climbing 5% following its 2019 full-year results and positive forward guidance.

Signature Aviation shares dropped almost 7% to fall to the bottom of the European benchmark. It comes after both Barclays and J.P. Morgan cut their price targets for the stock.