LONDON — European stocks closed sharply lower on Thursday as hopes that a U.S. stimulus package would be agreed before the November election waned, and as public health restrictions returned across Europe due to a surge in coronavirus infections.
The pan-European Stoxx 600 closed provisionally down by 2.1%, with oil and gas shares plunging 3.1% to lead losses. All sectors and major bourses slid into negative territory.
Global equity markets are under pressure as traders continue to weigh the prospects for a coronavirus aid deal being reached before the Nov. 3 election. Stocks in Asia-Pacific were mostly lower by the close Thursday, while U.S. markets also slipped due to the uncertain stimulus outlook.
Coronavirus concerns continue to weigh on sentiment too as infections surge in the region. The French government declared a public health state of emergency Wednesday as the country saw hospitalizations from Covid-19 jump above the 9,100 threshold for the first time since June 25, Reuters reported.
Meanwhile in the U.K., the government announced stricter coronavirus measures in London in an effort to stem the rapid spread of the disease.
At the top of the European blue chip index, mall operator URW surged almost 14% after a major shareholder group opposed its strategy and rights issuance.
Spanish pharmaceutical company Grifols saw its stock climb over 8% after rival Vertex scrapped a key clinical trial of a new deficiency disorder treatment.