Markets

European markets close lower as investors digest virus and earnings news

Key Points
  • New record rises in daily Covid-19 cases have been seen in the U.S., Russia and France in recent days, while the U.K. is set to extend its highest category alert to more cities.
  • The U.K. has warned that time is running out as the European Union's top negotiator Michel Barnier travels to London to continue Brexit talks.

LONDON — European stocks closed lower Tuesday as investors continued to monitor the rapid spread of the coronavirus across the continent and digested a fresh round of major corporate earnings.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 closed 0.8% provisionally, with oil and gas stocks shedding more than 2% to lead losses. Tech shares struggled to come back from their 7.4% plunge on Monday, down around 0.2% by Tuesday's close.

It came as soaring global coronavirus cases, including in major European countries, and further delays to a potential U.S. stimulus bill hammered sentiment.

Stateside, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi reiterated hopes that a deal with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on a new coronavirus relief bill is still possible before next Tuesday's presidential election, but key differences remain and slow progress has put markets on edge.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell for a second day as the coronavirus continues to batter the U.S. ahead of the upcoming vote.

New record rises in daily Covid-19 cases have been seen in the U.S., Russia and France in recent days, while the U.K. is set to extend its highest category alert to more cities and German Chancellor Angela Merkel has warned colleagues that Germany is on the verge of losing control of the virus, according to The Guardian.

Elsewhere, the U.K. has warned that time is running out as the European Union's top negotiator Michel Barnier travels to London to continue Brexit talks, with the two sides differing strongly on key issues in their bid to secure a new trading arrangement by year-end.

Earnings in focus

Santander on Tuesday projected an improvement of core profits for 2020 and reported a trebling of statutory net profit in the third quarter compared to a year ago. The Spanish lender's shares initially climbed before later shedding 1%, while HSBC's London-listed shares added more than 3% following its convincing third-quarter profit beat.

German chemicals company Brenntag added nearly 6% after announcing job cuts, while at the top of the Stoxx 600, Swedish Orphan Biovitrum jumped almost 8%. Another top performer was France's Ubisoft, which rose over 4% after announcing a rebrand of its game subscription service and integrations with Google and Amazon's respective cloud gaming platforms.

Toward the bottom of the pan-European index, Rheinmetall dropped more than 6% after Janus Henderson placed 1.2 million shares, according to Reuters. Austrian retail bank Bawag also fell around 6% after a downbeat earnings report.

Oil major BP reported a third-quarter underlying replacement cost profit, used as a proxy for net profit, of $100 million, compared with a loss of $6.7 billion in the second quarter and $2.3 billion profit for the third quarter of 2019. BP stock reversed course to trade 2% lower by the close.