Markets

European stocks close 3.6% lower amid coronavirus volatility; oil sector down 5.5%

Key Points
  • The pan-European Stoxx 600 closed 3.6% lower provisionally.
  • Oil and gas shares sank 5.5% as OPEC+ failed to reach and output deal.
  • The U.S. 10-year Treasury tumbled below 0.7% for the first time ever.

European stocks fell sharply Friday as the coronavirus outbreak continues to impact businesses worldwide.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 closed 3.6% lower provisionally, with oil and gas shares sinking 5.5% to lead losses as all sectors and major bourses slid into the red. The sector slipped as OPEC and its non-OPEC allies failed to agree an output deal to offset the impact of the coronavirus.

Global stocks have been hit by ongoing concerns over the outbreak. On Wall Street, equities sank sharply with the Dow Jones industrial average falling by 500 points. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq indexes were also in the red.

Meanwhile, the U.S. 10-year Treasury yield – which serves as a benchmark for mortgages and other loans – tumbled below 0.7% for the first time ever. Bond yields have tumbled this week as investors began pricing in further central bank action.

Oil prices also slumped significantly, reaching lows not seen since 2017 as the producer group known as OPEC+ failed to reach an agreement to implement supply cuts.

In terms of data, Italian retail sales came in flat month-on-month in January after an increase in December. French trade balance figures came in at -5.89 billion euros ($6.66 billion) in January versus a revised -3.72 billion in December. German industrial orders surpassed expectations to post a monthly climb of 5.5% in January. 

Biggest losers

At the bottom of the Stoxx 600, Capita slid another 11% after Barclays and Deutsche Bank both cut their price target for the stock following Thursday's 38% post-earnings nosedive.

German cash and carry group Metro fell 11% after the European Commission approved its unconditional sale of Real to the SCP Group, while Anglo American Platinum shares slid almost 9% after an explosion caused the temporary shutdown of one of its plans, forcing the world's second-biggest platinum group to declare force majeure and cut its output guidance.

At the top of the European benchmark, Poste Italiane stock edged 3% higher after lifting its 2020 guidance and saying it is well-positioned to withstand the coronavirus.