European Shares Slide On Renewed Virus Worries

stockmarkets jan04 24mar21 lt

European shares fell on Wednesday as a jump in Covid-19 cases across Europe and concerns over the slow pace of vaccinations triggered risk aversion.

Germany, France and Italy have expanded virus-related curbs amid a third wave of infections. The head of the World Health Organization said recent increases in deaths and cases represent "truly worrying trends."

The pan European Stoxx 600 eased 0.3 percent to 421.94 in cautious trade. The German DAX dropped 0.7 percent, France's CAC 40 index shed 0.6 percent and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 was down 0.1 percent.

Banks Deutsche Bank, BNP Paribas and HSBC Holding were down about 1 percent.

British housebuilder Bellway fell nearly 2 percent after posting lower half-yearly profit.

Oil majors Total SE, BP Plc and Royal Dutch Shell were moving lower after crude oil prices plummeted by about 6 percent overnight.

German real estate investment company Deutsche EuroShop AG slumped 5 percent. The company reported that its funds from operations for the 2020 financial year declined to 123.3 million euros from 149.6 million euros last year.

French retailer Carrefour SA edged up slightly. Grupo Carrefour Brasil has agreed with Advent International and Walmart for the acquisition of Grupo BIG Brasil SA, Brazil's third-biggest food retailer.

Halma, a safety, health and environmental-technology group, jumped 3.3 percent after it forecast adjusted pretax profit for the fiscal year to be higher than previous guidance.

In economic releases, Germany's private sector growth accelerated in March driven by a record expansion in manufacturing, flash data from IHS Markit showed.

The flash composite output index rose to a 37-month high of 56.8 from 51.1 in February. The reading was well above economists' forecast of 51.6.

U.K. consumer price inflation slowed unexpectedly in February, figures from the Office for National Statistics revealed.

Consumer price inflation eased to 0.4 percent from 0.7 percent in January. The rate was forecast to rise to 0.8 percent.

Month-on-month, consumer prices edged up 0.1 percent, in contrast to January's 0.2 percent fall.

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