Europe Markets

European stocks close 2.2% higher after a day of choppy trading; travel sector slides 6%

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Key Points
  • U.S. stocks also turned positive after the White House outlined plans to combat the economic slowdown from the coronavirus.
  • The European Union is closing its external borders on Tuesday.
  • In the U.K., the government has stopped short of closing schools, but U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to announce aid measures for businesses soon.

European markets ended in the green on Tuesday after a day of wild swings, amid hopes of more stimulus as the fast-spreading coronavirus fuels fears of an impending recession.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 provisionally finished 2.2% higher amid a choppy session, having gained 3% at the opening bell before falling into the red. Travel and leisure stocks plunged around 6%, off earlier lows, as shutdowns continue to hammer the sector. Spain's IBEX, meanwhile, provisionally ended up 9.2%.

U.S. stocks also turned positive after Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin outlined plans to combat the economic slowdown from the coronavirus. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was over 5.5% higher by lunchtime, following its worst day since the "Black Monday" market crash in 1987 Monday and its third-worst day ever. 

Europe's lockdown over the coronavirus continues to dominate headlines, along with anticipation of fiscal stimulus from governments around the world after a slew of central banks unveiled emergency monetary policy measures within the past two weeks. France on Monday unveiled a $50 billion package to help small business and employees.

Italy and Spain remain the worst hit countries but France and Germany have also reported sharp rises in cases. The French president announced that the European Union would be closing its external borders on Tuesday. Emmanuel Macron also said he was ordering people in France to stay at home for up to 15 days because of the coronavirus outbreak.

In the U.K., the government stopped short of closing schools but stepped up its advice to the public, with U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson telling the country on Monday to avoid social contact. 

"Now is the time for everyone to stop non-essential contact with others and to stop all unnecessary travel," Johnson said at a press conference. "You should avoid pubs, clubs, theaters and other such social venues," he added.

Johnson is expected to announce additional aid measures either later on Tuesday or in the coming days.

A survey from the ZEW economic research institute Tuesday showed that euro zone economic sentiment plummeted in March, falling to -49.5 from +10.4 in February. 

Stocks on the move

Volkswagen announced Tuesday that it will suspend production from Friday, warning alongside its full-year results that 2020 would be a difficult year. The German automaker's shares reversed course to gain 1.7% during afternoon trade.

Iliad shares surged 19% after the French telecoms company's full-year results, while compatriot retailer Casino gained 12% and Belgian telecoms group Proximus climbed over 20%.

Osram Licht cratered 24% after owner-to-be AMS saw its shares fall below the price at which the Austrian semiconductor manufacturer is raising new equity for the deal.

SSP Group fell by more than 29%, while travel operator Tui saw a 10% fall.