Europe Markets

European markets close higher as some nations plan to ease virus lockdown measures

Key Points
  • The pan-European Stoxx 600 closed 0.8% higher provisionally, with technology stocks adding 3% to lead the move higher, while oil and gas shed almost 2%.
  • An increasing number of European countries have cautiously started to ease restrictive measures on public life and businesses.
  • Germany is the latest to set out a road map for how it will reopen its economy.

European markets closed higher on Thursday as some countries began plotting an exit from lockdown measures.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 closed 0.8% higher provisionally, with technology stocks adding 3% to lead the move higher, while oil and gas shed almost 2%.

An increasing number of European countries have cautiously started to ease restrictive measures on public life and businesses this week, and Germany is the latest to set out a road map for how it will reopen its economy. Smaller shops will be able to start reopening on April 20 and schools will reopen on May 4. Mass gatherings have been banned until Aug. 31, however.

Across the Atlantic, more than 5.2 million Americans filed first-time jobless claims during the week ending April 11, the U.S. Labor Department said on Thursday. Although fewer claims were recorded than in the previous two weeks, the latest report brought the total number of U.S. job losses during the coronavirus crisis up to 22 million.

Stocks on Wall Street were mixed on Thursday, as the jobless data was weighed against optimism that Covid-19 infections may soon begin to slow in the United States. 

Data published Thursday showed that euro zone industrial production dipped by 0.1% month-on-month and 1.9% year-on-year in February, before coronavirus shutdown measures were imposed across the bloc.

In terms of individual share price action, German meal kit firm Hellofresh surged more than 11%, while CHR Hansen gained over 10% after the Danish bioscience company beat second-quarter growth expectations. 

At the other end of the European blue chip index, investment manager M&G fell nearly 10% and British business outsourcing giant Capita dropped almost 11%.