Europe Markets

European stocks close sharply lower as surge in coronavirus cases spooks investors

Key Points
  • The pan-European Stoxx 600 closed down by about 2.7% by the afternoon, with all sectors and major bourses in negative territory. 
  • Investor sentiment has been shaken by an uptick in the number of Covid-19 cases all over the world as economies emerge from lockdown.

European stocks closed sharply lower on Wednesday as a surge in coronavirus cases around the world spooked investors.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 provisionally closed down by about 2.7%, with all sectors and major bourses in negative territory. Autos stocks, which were over 4.5% lower, led the losses in the region. 

Investor sentiment has been shaken by an uptick in the number of Covid-19 cases all over the world as economies emerge from lockdown. White House health advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci warned Tuesday that parts of the U.S. are beginning to see a "disturbing surge" of Covid-19 cases.

Fauci did also say, however, that states with growing coronavirus outbreaks may not need to do an "absolute shutdown." More than 2 million people in the U.S. have been infected with the coronavirus so far, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. 

Germany, meanwhile, reported an outbreak of Covid-19 cases at a slaughterhouse in Lower Saxony. It's the latest meat-processing plant to see an outbreak of the virus, with 23 workers testing positive.

On Wall Street, stocks fell as traders became increasingly worried about a spike in new U.S. cases. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped around 700 points while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq indexes were also sharply lower.

Back in Europe, markets were also rocked on Wednesday by the news that the U.S. is considering $3.1 billion worth in new tariffs on products from France, Germany, the U.K. and Spain.

The move is part of a wider reaction from the United States in relation to a long-standing dispute with the European Union over subsidies to large civil aircraft manufacturers.

Stocks on the move

Looking at individual stocks, Germany's Wirecard plunged to the bottom of the Stoxx 600 after a tumultuous few days, with shares erasing earlier gains to shed over 28%. The payments firm has been embroiled in scandal after it announced auditors couldn't find 1.9 billion euros of cash on its balance sheet, leading to former CEO Markus Braun's arrest

Sweden's Evolution Gaming also tumbled after Reuters reported it had made an offer to buy NetEnt AB for 19.6 billion Swedish krona ($2.1 billion). Shares of the company were down almost 6%. 

At the other end of the index, Dialog Semiconductor gained more than 6%. The U.K.-based company updated its revenue outlook for the second quarter on Tuesday, adjusting expected revenue upward to be in the range of $290 million to $305 million.