European Stocks Mixed; Earnings and Covid Developments in Focus By

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By Peter Nurse – European stock markets traded mixed on Monday, with investors keeping a wary eye on Covid-19 developments while earnings season kicks into top gear.

At 3:45 AM ET (0845 GMT), the in Germany traded 0.1% higher, the in France fell 0.1% and the U.K.’s index dropped 0.1%. 

Equity markets have posted healthy gains over the last few weeks on bets Covid-19 vaccines will start to reduce infection rates worldwide and on a stronger U.S. economic recovery under President Joe Biden. 

However, the vaccine rollouts have been uneven, with relatively rapid progress in the U.K. but a much slower rollout in France. AstraZeneca (NASDAQ:) warned of further delays to deliveries of its vaccine in Europe on Friday, due to a production bottleneck at one of its manufacturing partners. Over the weekend, Italy threatened over the weekend against both Astra and Pfizer (NYSE:)  over delivery delays. 

Additionally, the French newspaper Journal du Dimanche reported on Sunday that France, which is already operating a national 12-hour curfew, could impose a third lockdown. 

Dutch health technology company Philips (AS:) stock gained 2.8% after it reported a 7% increase in fourth-quarter core profit, while Siemens Energy (DE:) stock rose 2.5% after it swung to a core profit in its fiscal first quarter.

In the battered U.K. retail sector, ASOS (LON:) stock rose 3.5% after it said it was in “exclusive” talks to buy the Topshop, Topman and Miss Selfridge brands out of administration, while (LON:) stock rose 3.8% after confirming that it is buying the Debenhams brand. Elsewhere, there were all-time highs for German online fashion chain Zalando (DE:) and automaker Volvo (ST:).

In the U.S.., investors remain hopeful that the $1.9 trillion stimulus package proposed by President Biden will be passed by Congress soon, despite opposition from some Republican lawmakers.

Corporate earnings season gets into full swing this week, with Microsoft (NASDAQ:) reporting after the close Tuesday, followed by Apple (NASDAQ:), Facebook (NASDAQ:) and Tesla (NASDAQ:) a day later. 

The Federal Reserve meets for its first of 2021 on Tuesday, with the policy decision to be handed down on Wednesday, while the World Economic Forum starts in a digital format later Monday, with European Central Bank Chief Economist Philip Lane among those scheduled to speak. 

On the economic data front, Germany’s Ifo institute releases its results for January later Monday.

Oil prices edged higher Monday, rebounding from Friday’s losses on the back of a surprise rise in U.S. inventories by 4.4 million barrels in the week to January 15th.

futures traded 0.7% higher at $52.65 a barrel, while the international benchmark contract rose 0.6% to $55.56. 

Elsewhere, fell 0.2% to $1,852.40/oz, while traded 0.1% higher at $1.2176.


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