Europe Markets

European markets close lower with virus, earnings and retail moves in focus

Share
Key Points
  • U.K. retailers were in the spotlight with two online retailers looking to buy high street brands from administrators.
  • On the data front, Germany's Ifo business climate index fell in January, with Monday's reading coming in at 90.1, down from 92.1 in December as both current conditions and expectations tumbled.

LONDON — European stocks closed sharply lower on Monday afternoon as investors monitored the coronavirus pandemic, and plans for U.S. stimulus measures.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 index slid 0.8% by the close, having gained more than 1.2% earlier in the trading session.

Travel and leisure stocks fell 1.8% to lead losses on the back of further Covid-19 restrictions, while health care stocks gained 0.7%.

Shares of Dutch health technology company Philips traded 2.3% higher after it reported a 7% rise in fourth-quarter core earnings, boosted by demand for its hospital equipment.

In the U.K., shares of online clothing retailer Asos were up 5% on reports that it is in talks to buy the Topshop and Miss Selfridge brands, among others, from the administrators of the Arcadia Group.

Shares of online retailer Boohoo were also 4.6% higher Monday after it said it would buy the Debenhams brand, but would not buy its physical stores.

On Wall Street, U.S. stocks fell in volatile trading as investors prepared for earnings news featuring reports from the largest tech companies. President Joe Biden's attempts to push through a $1.9 trillion stimulus program that many congressional Republicans oppose is also in focus for investors.

The fiscal aid includes direct checks to millions of Americans, aid to state and local governments, funding for Covid vaccines and testing, a boost to the minimum wage and enhanced unemployment benefits, among other things.

On the data front, Germany's Ifo business climate index fell in January, with Monday's reading coming in at 90.1, down from 92.1 in December as both current conditions and expectations fell.