By Peter Nurse
Investing.com – European stock markets weakened Friday, with investors having to digest fresh coronavirus worries and weak U.K. growth data.
While the U.K. and U.S. press ahead with their vaccination rollouts, the EU is struggling to give its population shots and infection rates are rising again in big countries such as Germany and Italy, as well as much of central Europe.
France reported over 30,000 new coronavirus infections on Wednesday, for the first time in two weeks, prompting the country’s health minister, Olivier Veran, to warn that the Covid-19 situation in greater Paris was “especially worrying”.
Across the Channel, GDP data showed the U.K. economy shrank by 2.9% in January as a result of the latest lockdown, leaving it 9% smaller than its pre-pandemic peak.
Europe had received a positive handover from Wall Street after President Joe Biden signed his $1.9 trillion Covid relief package into law and held out the prospect of a return to normal life by the July 4 Independence Day holiday.
In corporate news, EssilorLuxottica (PA:ESLX) stock rose 1% after the Franco-Italian eyewear company reported top- and bottom-line growth in the second half of the year as its markets recovered, adding it will pay a dividend.
Burberry (LON:BRBY) stock soared over 7% after the luxury goods retailer said it has seen a strong rebound in sales since December.
Hammerson (LON:HMSO) stock climbed 5.8% after the U.K. property developer launched asset sales in order to boost its finances, while Berkeley Group (LON:BKGH) stock fell 4.4% after the U.K. housebuilder said it expects profits to be flat this financial year.
Elsewhere, Renault (PA:RENA) stock fell 0.5% after the French car manufacturer announced it has sold its stake in German rival Daimler (OTC:DDAIF), down 2.1%, for around 1.1 billion euro ($1.4 billion).
Oil prices slipped Friday, but remained at elevated levels amid confidence about demand recovery in the second half of the year as the global economy – and the travel sector in particular – recovers..
European Stocks Lower; Covid Worries on the Rise
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