On Friday, European stocks drifted lower after a strong rally this week as a record number of coronavirus cases were posted by France and Italy, while investors assessed the expected implications of a potential gridlock in Washington on stimulus and policy. After enjoying a winning run for five days, the pan-European STOXX 600 index fell by 0.8%, which put it on the path for its best week since the month of June. Having already gone under a national lockdown, France saw a record increase in daily COVID-19 cases for the second time within four days and Italy also registered its highest number of cases on Thursday.
In response, leisure and travel stocks declined and British airline, EasyJet, stated that they were now scaling back their already short flying schedule due to the recent lockdowns announced in Germany, France, and England. There was a 3.1% decline in the company’s shares. Healthcare and technology heavyweights also decline after making strong gains in the week. Earlier this week, there had been a rally in the global stock markets, as investors were of the opinion that a divided Congress in the U.S. would result in a delay for major changes in policy, including increased scrutiny on big American companies.
Democrat Joe Biden was inching closer to victory over his Republican rival Donald Trump in the race for the presidency, but the outcome remains unclear and votes are still being tallied, while Trump claimed that they were ‘stealing’ the election from him. Market analysts said that there were doubts that the eventual outcome would be dragged in the U.S. courts. As of now, financial markets don’t appear to be overly concerned, but it would still be wise to take some money off the table as the weekend draws nearer. A surprise increase of 6% in the third-quarter profit of Germany’s Allianz gave a boost to insurers.
The sector was also lifted due to a multi-billion dollar deal involving Danish insurer Tryg, Canadian insurer Intact Financial and RSA. There was also a 9.3% jump in Richemont, the Cartier jewelry maker, as it saw a significant improvement in its second-quarter due to its online retail sales. Likewise, there was also a 1.4% gain in China Swatch Group in sympathy. There was a 2.7% surge in Deutsche Telekom, as the company owns a big stake in T-Mobile US Inc. The United States operator was able to add more subscribers for its service than had been expected by the analysts for the third quarter of the year.
There was a 4.9% decline in Cosmetics company, Euro Cosmetic, which was making its stock market debut on the Milan exchange. Overall, there has been a lot of uncertainty in the market due to the second wave of the coronavirus that has shaken European countries and they are once again being forced into lockdown measures that can have a disastrous impact on the economy. In addition, the uncertainty of the U.S. election outcome has also had a mixed response in the markets.