Europe Markets

European stocks close 1.4% lower amid virus volatility; Capita plunges 38%

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Key Points
  • The pan-European Stoxx 600 closed around 1.4% lower provisionally.
  • The index had earlier fallen as much as 2.8%.
  • Basic resources and autos were among the worst performing sectors.

European stocks closed lower Thursday, continuing a week of wild volatility for global markets amid fears over the coronavirus outbreak.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 closed around 1.4% lower provisionally. The index had earlier fallen as much as 2.8%. Basic resources and autos were among the worst performing sectors.

Markets had been initially buoyed by the IMF's announcement of a $50 billion aid package on Wednesday to combat the impact of the coronavirus. IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva told CNBC the money is available "immediately" and is for low-income and emerging market countries.  

But shares in both Europe and the U.S. declined as fears about the coronavirus disrupting the global economy weighed heavily on sentiment. HSBC said a worker had tested positive for the disease on Thursday, while in the U.S. two more people in New York City were confirmed to have been diagnosed with COVID-19.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average dropped over 500 points while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq indexes were also down. Rate cuts from central banks this week — including the U.S. Federal Reserve and the Reserve Bank of Australia — have dragged Europe's banks lower, falling 2.6%, as the Bank of England and European Central Bank are expected to follow suit.

The latest figures from the World Health Organization (WHO) put the number of global coronavirus cases at at least 95,200. The number of global deaths stands at around 3,270.

Elsewhere, OPEC has agreed to implement a huge cut to oil supply to offset the impact of the virus, pending Russian approval.

Stocks on the move

Hellofresh was among the top gainers, jumping over 5% after JPMorgan upgraded the German meal-kit company's stock. Earnings remained a key driver of individual price action across the European benchmark. 

Hugo Boss shares rose 2.8% after the company reported a fall in annual profit for 2019, but lifted its dividend and offered optimistic 2020 guidance.

At the bottom of the European benchmark, Capita plunged 38% amid concerns over the outsourcing company's turnaround plan, while Cineworld tumbled 13%. Other companies in the red included Evraz and Continental, which were both down by around 12%.