Europe Markets

European markets close 4% higher as lockdown lifting continues

Key Points
  • The pan-European Stoxx 600 closed 4% higher, with basic resources stocks climbing 8% to lead gains as all sectors and major bourses traded firmly in positive territory.
  • U.S. biotech firm Moderna reported "positive" phase one results for its vaccine trial Monday, sending shares stateside sharply higher.
  • Investors are also digesting comments from U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell on Sunday, about the prospects for the U.S. economy to recover in the medium term.

European stocks closed sharply higher Monday as investor confidence rose with lockdown restrictions around the world being lifted.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 provisionally closed 4% higher, with basic resources stocks climbing 8% to lead gains as all sectors and major bourses traded firmly in positive territory.

Economies across the continent continue to lift lockdown restrictions, allowing more businesses to cautiously open. There is growing discontent among swathes of the public at the speed of the lifting of restrictions, however, with large-scale anti-lockdown protests seen in Germany this weekend.

Investors are also digesting comments from U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell on Sunday, about the prospects for the U.S. economy to recover in the medium term.

"In the long run and even in the medium run, you wouldn't want to bet against the American economy. The American economy will recover," Powell said in an interview with CBS' "60 Minutes" in an excerpt aired Sunday morning on "Face the Nation."

"Assuming there's not a second wave of the coronavirus, I think you'll see the economy recover steadily through the second half of the year," the central bank's chief said. However, he added that "for the economy to fully recover ... that may have to await the arrival of a vaccine."

In corporate earnings news, RyanAir posted a rise in first-quarter profit and revenue but warned of a "difficult" year ahead due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Irish carrier is negotiating pay cuts, unpaid leave and up to 3,000 job losses with its employees and trade unions.

Shares stateside also rallied, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average trading 800 points higher on the back of optimism over a potential coronavirus vaccine. U.S. biotech firm Moderna reported "positive" phase one results for its vaccine trial Monday.

Biggest movers

British property developer Hammerson surged nearly 21% during afternoon trading to lead the Stoxx 600.

Elekta shares climbed around 16% after the Swedish radiation therapy equipment manufacturer secured an order worth $200 million.

On the other end of the benchmark, shares of German meal kit delivery firm Hellofresh dipped nearly 5%.