Markets

European stocks close higher as monetary and fiscal measures mount; travel and leisure up 9%

Key Points
  • The Bank of England on Wednesday became the latest central bank to launch a substantial bond buying program and issue further emergency cuts to interest rates.
  • Europe has now become the epicenter of the global coronavirus pandemic, with Italy's death toll surpassing that of China, where the virus originated, and cases rising exponentially across the continent.

European markets closed higher Friday, following a volatile week as central banks and governments around the world adopted a "whatever it takes" approach to mitigating the economic hit from the coronavirus pandemic.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 provisionally closed around 1.4% higher, paring earlier gains. Travel and leisure stocks surged over 9% to lead gains after taking a hammering due to coronavirus shutdowns, while media stocks bucked the upward trend to fall more than 1%.

The Bank of England on Wednesday became the latest central bank to launch a substantial bond-buying program and issue further emergency cuts to interest rates, following similar moves by the European Central Bank, the U.S. Federal Reserve and the Bank of Japan, while governments across major economies have begun to open the fiscal taps.

Global stock markets have begun to edge off their multi-year lows in the past 24 hours, with the Dow rising by 100 points stateside and Asia-Pacific markets climbing during afternoon trade, led by 4.29% gains for South Korea's Kospi.

However, the dollar is enjoying its strongest week since the financial crisis and hammering currencies around the world, as investors continue a dash to cash in anticipation of a possible global recession.

Europe has now become the epicenter of the global coronavirus pandemic, with Italy's death toll surpassing that of China, where the virus originated, and cases rising exponentially across the continent.

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has pleaded with the European Union to use its rescue fund to mitigate the economic impact of the pandemic.

In corporate news, airlines continue to be crushed by falling demand amid the outbreak and associated border shutdowns.

German carrier Lufthansa has grounded most of its fleet, and on Thursday warned that the industry may not survive the pandemic without government bailouts.

Biggest movers

French real estate investment trusts Covivio and Klepierre jumped 34% and 27% respectively by mid-afternoon, while Austrian oil and gas company OMV also added 26%.

British retailer W.H. Smith jumped 22.6%, rebounding from a heavy run of losses after warning of the significant impact of the coronavirus to its businesses.

At the bottom of the European benchmark, British business process outsourcing giant Capita dropped 12.5%.