Europe Markets

European stocks finish off session lows; Bank of England expands bond buying; Wirecard down 60%

Key Points
  • German payments company Wirecard plummeted around 60% after again delaying the publication of its 2019 financial report.
  • The Bank of England on Thursday added another £100 billion to its quantitative easing program in a bid to shore up the U.K. economy.

European stocks closed lower on Thursday afternoon after the Bank of England expanded its bond-buying program and held interest rates steady at 0.1%.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 finished off session lows but fell 0.6% amid a choppy session. Banks and basic resources dropped around 1.2% to lead losses while chemicals stocks bucked the downward trend to add 0.7%.

The Bank of England on Thursday added another £100 billion to its quantitative easing program in a bid to shore up the U.K. economy amid the fallout from the coronavirus crisis, taking the total value of its Asset Purchase Facility (APF) to £745 billion. Analysts attributed the negative market reaction to investors having hoped for a larger boost.

Stocks had received a brief reprieve after the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention's chief epidemiologist, Wu Zunyou, said at a news conference that a coronavirus outbreak in Beijing, which saw 21 new cases confirmed on Wednesday and 31 the day before, was now under control.

Investors stateside reacted to new jobless claims which rose more than expected last week, coming in at 1.508 million. Wall Street was higher by the European market close on Thursday, clawing back most of their earlier losses as shares of companies benefiting from the economy recovered. 

Wirecard plummeting

In terms of individual share price action, German payments company Wirecard plummeted around 60% after again delaying the publication of its 2019 financial report. The company claimed it needed more time to work with auditor EY to address alleged balance sheet inconsistencies.

Spanish-German renewable energy company Siemens Gamesa slid 7% after CEO Markus Tacke stepped down.

Taylor Wimpey shares fell 5.7% after the British house builder announced a £500 million ($626.4 million) equity raise.

At the other end of the European blue chip index, Prudential jumped 3.4% after announcing a $27.6 billion reinsurance agreement for its U.S. business.

— CNBC's Fred Imbert, Yun Li and Jeff Cox contributed to this report.