European stock markets fell Thursday as investors become increasingly concerned by rising virus infections, new lockdowns, a slowing economic recovery, stalled US stimulus talks and US election uncertainty.
Global equities have notched up impressive gains in recent months, but the so-called “bull” run has sputtered to a halt in the past few weeks, as expectations fade that a wave of fresh cash from governments and central banks will be sufficient to kick-start the economy.
“Markets are digesting and grappling with this idea that the growth expectations that investors have might not materialise,” said Lauren Goodwin at New York Life Investments.
“As the fiscal impulse in the US starts to wane, some of these expectations for a slow and steady recovery are shaken.”
The latest example was a rise in US jobs claims for the week of September 19, despite expectations they would drop, though in afternoon New York trading, the Dow Jones index rebounded from early losses to show a solid gain of 1.1 percent.
In Europe, the FTSE 100 index in London closed 1.3 percent lower.
Markets continued “to grapple with a host of uncertainties,” the Schwab Market Update noted.
With the northern hemisphere now heading into autumn and winter, there is also concern that a second wave of coronavirus will force the reimposition of strict, economically devastating containment measures.
France is shutting bars and restaurants in its second-biggest city Marseille and putting it on “maximum alert”, while several other cities, including Paris, will see new restrictions as well.
Britain’s government has also shortened pub opening hours and has warned of other measures, while Spain’s Madrid region has locked down roughly 850,000 people and plans to extend its curbs.
US traders are now growing concerned that rising infections at home could see similar moves, and several Federal Reserve officials, including chief Jerome Powell, have called for a new stimulus package to mitigate the impact.
But politicians on Capitol Hill appear deadlocked ahead of the presidential election in November.
Michael Hewson at CMC Markets said: “The main problem the Fed has is that US politicians appear more interested in fighting an election campaign than helping to pass a new stimulus plan which would help the American people.”
London – FTSE 100: DOWN 1.3 percent at 5,822.78 points (close)
Frankfurt – DAX 30: DOWN 0.3 percent at 12,606.57 (close)
Paris – CAC 40: DOWN 0.8 percent at 4,762.62 (close)
EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 0.6 percent at 3,159.64
New York – Dow Jones: UP 1.1 percent at 27,061.42
Tokyo – Nikkei 225: DOWN 1.1 percent at 23,087.82 (close)
Hong Kong – Hang Seng: DOWN 1.8 percent at 23,311.07 (close)
Shanghai – Composite: DOWN 1.7 percent at 3,223.18 (close)
Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.1659 from $1.1660 at 2115 GMT
Pound/dollar: UP at $1.2736 from $1.2722
Euro/pound: DOWN at 91.53 pence from 91.62 pence
Dollar/yen: UP at 105.42 yen from 105.39 yen
West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 0.2 percent at $39.85 per barrel
Brent North Sea crude: DOWN 0.5 percent at $41.56 per barrel
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