© Reuters. People wearing protective face masks, following an outbreak of the coronavirus, are reflected on a screen showing Nikkei index, outside a brokerage in Tokyo
By Simon Jessop
LONDON (Reuters) – World stocks fell further and oil headed for a double-digit weekly slide on Friday as jitters over a rising global COVID-19 infection rate and next week’s U.S. presidential election more than offset strong euro zone quarterly growth data.
A strong central bank-fuelled bounce back from the initial pandemic slide earlier in the year has faltered this week, with concerns about an even worse second wave of infections, particularly in Europe, taking the froth off markets.
“The US election, the extent of further lockdown measures, Brexit negotiations and vaccine news all present both upside and downside risks over the coming weeks and it is understandable that investors may want to proceed with caution,” said Mark Dowding, chief investment officer at BlueBay Asset Management.
World stocks () were down 0.3% at 0925 GMT, tracking weakness in Asia, while U.S. stock futures () () were down 1% to 1.3%. Gold rose, with spot prices climbing 0.3% to $1,873 an ounce.
In Europe, the blue-chip EuroSTOXX 50 () was down 0.7% to take its weekly loss to 6.9% and leaving it at levels last seen in late May. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside of Japan () closed down 1.2% for a 2.2% weekly loss, breaking four straight weeks of gains.
“New lockdowns across Europe are being harshly repriced by markets,” Barclays (LON:) equity strategist Emmanuel Cau said in a note to clients.
“With complacency going fast, this dip could end up offering another good entry point, but a lot depends on the election outcome and timing of the results.”
European government bond yields rose in response to fresh COVID restrictions across the continent, with Italian, Spanish and German 10-year debt yields all up between 1 and 2 basis points.
While Brent crude () enjoyed something of a bounce approaching midday in London – up 0.5% and broadly in line with its U.S. peer () – it still remains down sharply on the week, facing losses of nearly 10%.
That in turn led to a broad sell-off of commodity linked currencies including the Russian rouble
Graphic: Stocks, oil vs coronavirus cases https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/mkt/jbyprxdzope/Pasted%20image%201604051261032.png
The weak sentiment dragging Europe lower came despite a strong showing in euro zone quarterly GDP figures – up 12.7% -, one day after the European Central Bank pledged more help for the economy when it next meets in December to help counter the potential economic hit from the pandemic.
Societe Generale (OTC:) FX analyst Kit Juckes said that given the recent imposition of a fresh lock-down in France, the positive growth data there – an 18.2% quarter-on-quarter jump – was not enough to outweigh the virus concerns.
This week has seen global coronavirus cases rose by over 500,000 for the first time, with France and Germany prepping fresh lockdowns.
Read More News: World stocks take fresh dip as COVID infection rate weighs