Europe Markets

European stocks close lower amid uncertainty in global markets; French mall operators rally

Key Points
  • There is some optimism at vaccination rollouts which have brightened the growth outlook.
  • On Tuesday, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) raised its growth forecast for the global economy this year.
  • The IMF now expects the global economy to grow 5.5% in 2021, a 0.3 percentage point increase from October's forecasts.

LONDON — European stocks closed lower on Wednesday, echoing an uncertain trend seen in other global markets as investors monitored vaccine rollouts and earnings.


The pan-European Stoxx 600 slid 1.1%, with basic resources falling 3.4% to lead losses while telecoms bucked the downward trend to add 1.5%.

The lackluster sentiment in Europe reflected investor uncertainty amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic; stocks in Asia-Pacific were mixed in Wednesday trade, while U.S. stocks fell sharply on Wednesday amid weak earnings from Boeing and AMD, along with concern about heightened speculative trading activity.

The U.S. Federal Reserve is also set to announce its latest monetary policy decision on Wednesday afternoon, upon conclusion of its first meeting of 2021.

There is some optimism at vaccination rollouts which have brightened the growth outlook, however. On Tuesday, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) raised its growth forecast for the global economy this year; the IMF now expects the global economy to grow 5.5% in 2021, a 0.3 percentage point increase from October's forecasts.

"Much now depends on the outcome of this race between a mutating virus and vaccines to end the pandemic, and on the ability of policies to provide effective support until that happens," IMF's Chief Economist Gita Gopinath said in a blog post.

Global coronavirus virus infections have topped the 100 million mark, according to a tally from Johns Hopkins University, as new and more contagious virus mutations circulate and send infection rates surging.

French mall operators soar

Shares of French mall operators rallied after French government minister Agnes Pannier-Runacher told a domestic news station on Tuesday that there was no need for government to make any decision on a new national lockdown yet.

Klepierre shares soared more than 19% and Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield 18% on the back of the comments.

At the bottom of the European blue chip index, Swiss online pharmacy Zur Rose Group fell 12% following a surge over the past month on the back of strong earnings and analyst upgrades.

Precious metals miner Fresnillo fell 12% after issuing a weaker gold production outlook for 2021, leading a broad decline for miners.