Europe Markets

European markets end lower as optimism over coronavirus vaccine wanes; Rolls-Royce falls 8%

Key Points
  • The pan-European Stoxx 600 closed about 0.8% lower, with almost all sectors and major bourses slipping into negative territory.
  • It comes as a resurgence in Covid-19 cases in the continent shakes investor sentiment.
  • Preliminary figures Thursday showed U.K. GDP grew by a record 15.5% in the third quarter, slightly lower than expected.

LONDON — European stocks ended Thursday's session in the red, retreating from some of the gains seen earlier in the week as initial positive sentiment around a coronavirus vaccine started to fade.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 closed about 0.8% lower provisionally, with bank stocks shedding 2% to lead losses as almost all sectors and major bourses slipped into negative territory.

It comes as a resurgence in Covid-19 cases in the continent shakes investor sentiment, despite Pfizer and BioNTech's announcement Monday that their Covid-19 vaccine candidate appeared to be more than 90% effective in its phase three clinical trials.

France's total number of cases rose to 1.86 million on Wednesday, overtaking Russia to become the worst-affected country in Europe. Italy meanwhile surpassed the 1 million infections mark for the first time, while the U.K. became the first country in Europe to suffer over 50,000 deaths.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 opened lower on Thursday as markets continued to churn following big gains earlier in the week. The Nasdaq Composite, meanwhile, gained 0.3% as tech shares rose slightly.

Back in Europe Thursday, preliminary figures showed the U.K. economy grew by a record 15.5% in the third quarter, slightly lower than the 15.8% expansion expected by economists. U.K. GDP remains 9.7% below its December 2019 level.

In terms of individual stock action, Burberry initially climbed before falling 2% after the British luxury fashion house posted a promising third-quarter earnings report.

German tech group Siemens saw its shares fall 3% after offering a mixed set of earnings and conservative forward guidance before the bell.

Meanwhile, airplane engine manufacturer Rolls-Royce plummeted over 8% to the bottom of the Stoxx 600 after completing a £2 billion ($2.6 billion) rights issue Thursday.