Europe Markets

European markets extend gains after choppy session to close over 1% higher

Key Points
  • Across the sectors it was a mixed bag, with financial stocks tumbling 3.2% to lead losses, as banks scrapped dividends and share buy-backs.
  • On the other end of the spectrum, the chemicals and healthcare sectors ended up over 3% each.
  • U.S. President Donald Trump on Sunday extended the national social distancing guidelines in the country to April 30, walking back his previous remarks that he wanted the country to reopen for business by Easter.
  • The coronavirus has already infected more than 720,000 people worldwide and caused at least 34,00 deaths, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

European markets flipped higher and extended gains on Monday afternoon, as the coronavirus pandemic remained in focus for investors.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 ended the day up 1.1%, paring earlier losses. 

Across the sectors it was a mixed bag, with financial stocks tumbling 3.2% to lead losses, as banks scrapped dividends and share buy-backs following comments from the European Central Bank (ECB) last week. The ECB said the resulting cash should be used to shore up the region's economies.  

On the other end of the spectrum, the chemicals and healthcare sectors ended up over 3% each.

It comes as global markets continue to take stock of the evolving coronavirus pandemic. The virus has already infected more than 720,000 people worldwide and caused at least 34,000 deaths, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

In the U.S., stocks also rose on Monday, following on from last week's rally, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average up 508 points, or 2.3%, and the S&P 500 2.4% higher.

U.S. President Donald Trump on Sunday extended the national social distancing guidelines to April 30, walking back his previous remarks that he wanted the country to reopen for business by Easter.

"Nothing would be worse than declaring victory before the victory has been won," Trump said at an evening press briefing after suggesting that the coronavirus death rate would likely peak in two weeks.

In Asia Pacific, meanwhile, stocks were mixed.

On the data front, euro zone business confidence saw its sharpest monthly decline on record during March, according to official figures from the European Commission published Monday. The EU's Economic Sentiment Indicator fell from 103.4 in February to 94.5, the steepest decline since the index began in 1985.

In terms of individual share price action, U.K. property developer Hammerson plunged 22% while cinema chain Cineworld and British aerospace firm Meggitt both fell more than 12%.

At the top of the European blue chip index, casino company Evolution Gaming jumped 11%.

Data releases

In the U.K., the latest figures showed a stagnant economy in the fourth-quarter of 2019. In comparison with the fourth quarter of 2018, U.K. GDP grew 1.1%, the Office for National Statistics said Tuesday. However, the data pre-date the spike in coronavirus cases in Britain.

There were 1.4 million unemployed people in Germany in February, the German statistics office said Tuesday. This left the overall adjusted unemployment rate at 3.2%, unchanged from the previous month. However, analysts said this was likely to be the last stable set of numbers coming out of Germany given the ongoing coronavirus outbreak and its expected impact on the economy which will be captured in the next figures.