European Stocks Lower; Carrefour Slumps as Takeover Pulled By

© Reuters.

By Peter Nurse – European stock markets edged lower Monday, starting the week on a downbeat note given Covid-related concerns, and not reassured by healthy-looking Chinese economic growth.

At 3:30 AM ET (0830 GMT), the in Germany traded 0.2% lower, the in France fell 0.3% and the U.K.’s index dropped 0.1%. 

China reported Monday that its economy grew 2.3% last year, as its rose by 6.5% in the fourth quarter from a year ago, helped by rising 4.6% in the final quarter from a year ago.

The figures from the world’s second largest economy have tended to be overshadowed by worries about the impact of the latest surge in Covid-19 cases, especially in Europe but also further afield.

China has recently locked down over 28 million people to combat the virus. In Europe, opposition to the latest restrictions is growing, as several thousand people held an unauthorized protest in Amsterdam on Sunday before being dispersed by riot police. While, in the U.S., the spread of the coronavirus has hit consumer spending, given Friday’s weak retail sales.

Still, losses are limited in Europe Monday, with the U.S. on holiday, and ahead of the latest European Central Bank meeting on Thursday.

Investors will also be keeping a wary eye on events in Washington, amid concerns about possible violence at President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on Wednesday as well as how much of his proposed $1.9 trillion stimulus plan will get through Congress given Republican opposition.

Back in Europe, Carrefour (PA:) stock slumped 6.5% after the Canadian company Couche-Tard abandoned its attempted takeover of the French retail giant after opposition from the French government.

Suez (PA:) stock climbed 2.6% after the French water company received an alternative offer from private equity firms Ardian and Global Infrastructure Partners, giving it an option aside from the takeover attempt by rival Veolia Environnement (OTC:).

AstraZeneca (NASDAQ:) stock rose 0.3% as the drug maker received U.S. approval for its gastric cancer drug, while BT Group (LON:) stock fell 2.9% as it faces a class action lawsuit over claims it failed to compensate elderly customers who were overcharged for landlines for years.

Oil prices fell Monday as rising Covid-19 cases, particularly in China, the world’s largest crude importer, called into question the recent recovery in demand.

futures traded 0.8% lower at $51.99 a barrel, while the international benchmark contract fell 0.9% to $54.59. Both benchmarks declined by more than 2% on Friday.

Elsewhere, rose 0.2% to $1,833.60/oz, while traded 0.1% lower at 1.2073.


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