Europe Markets

European stocks close mostly lower but UK's FTSE 100 climbs on vaccine approval; LSE up 9%

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Key Points
  • The pan-European Stoxx 600 provisionally closed barely below the flatline.
  • Britain's FTSE 100 index, however, climbed over 1%.
  • The U.K. on Wednesday became the first country in the world to authorize the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine.

LONDON — European stocks closed mostly lower on Wednesday after a record rally last month, though U.K. shares got a boost following news of the country's approval of a coronavirus vaccine.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 provisionally closed 0.1% lower, with most sectors and major bourses in negative territory. Britain's FTSE 100 index, however, climbed over 1.2%.

The U.K. on Wednesday became the first country in the world to authorize the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine, making it available from next week.

The move lower among most European bourses comes amid a drop in U.S. stocks Wednesday, despite recent strength that has brought the major averages to record highs. U.S. indexes had popped on Tuesday, the first day of December, adding to their sharp gains from the previous month.

Sentiment got a boost after a group of lawmakers unveiled a $908 billion stimulus plan, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell rejected the proposal later on Tuesday. Still, investors are hopeful for a second stimulus package in the lame-duck period for Congress.

On the data front, U.S. private payrolls rose by 307,000 in November, according to ADP. Economists polled by Dow Jones were expecting 475,000 private jobs were added in November, compared to the 365,000 added in October. The number was also the lowest since July.

Back in Europe, Brexit discussions continue in a pivotal week for the U.K. and the EU's future trading relationship. Reuters reported Wednesday morning that EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier had told envoys that differences between the two sides remain and a deal is hanging in the balance.

Data published Wednesday showed German retail sales rebounding in October, before the country re-entered a nationwide lockdown in a bid to curb a resurgence in coronavirus cases. Italy's unemployment rate climbed to 9.8% in October from an upwardly revised 9.7% in September, the national statistics bureau said Wednesday.

In terms of individual share price movement, the London Stock Exchange rose over 9% after Reuters reported, citing unnamed sources, that the company was set to win EU antitrust approval for its $27 billion acquisition of data analytics firm Refinitiv.

Meanwhile, G4S jumped more than 7% after Canada's GardaWorld increased its takeover bid for the British security firm to £3.68 billion ($4.92 billion).

At the other end of the European blue chip index, office provider IWG fell 7% after launching a £300 million convertible bond offering.

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- CNBC.com staff contributed to this report.