World News

European shares inch up as Coronavirus concerns discourage big moves

By Ambar Warrick

(Reuters) – European shares inched up on Monday, recovering from their worst week in nearly seven months as jitters remained over the economic fallout from a virus outbreak in China.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index <.STOXX> rose 0.1% by 0912 GMT, taking some support from optimism over the UK finally leaving the EU bloc.

Blue-chip British stocks <.FTSE> added about 0.3% after Britain officially left the EU on Friday, ending years of financial and political turmoil over the exit.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is now set to negotiate a trade deal with the EU, with sources suggesting he will consider a looser agreement, rather than follow EU rules.

However, investors are likely to stick to cautious plays in the near-term, with the death toll for the Chinese coronavirus still rising and multiple countries setting travel bans on China.

Further souring the mood, Chinese stock markets crashed upon opening after a long holiday on Monday. <.SS>

“Markets are more or less in this wait and see mode where they await new news regarding the coronavirus,” said Teeuwe Mevissen, senior market economist at Rabobank in Amsterdam.

“This will continue to be a very important theme for this week,” he added, saying that there were few other big-ticket events lined up later in the week for markets to trade on.

European travel and leisure stocks <.SXTP>, which have been among the worst hit by uncertainty over China, rebounded 0.6%. Budget airline Ryanair <RYA.I> led gains in the sector after its quarterly revenue beat estimates.

Technology stocks <.SX8P> added about 1%. French payments services provider Ingenico Group <INGC.PA> surged to the top of the sector, as well as the STOXX 600 after peer Worldline <WLN.PA> agreed to buy the company.

Oil and gas stocks <.SXEP> were among the worst performers for the day as worries over demand in China continued to erode oil prices.

Basic resources stocks <.SXPP>, which consist of several China-focused miners, also dropped. Mining heavyweights BHP Group <BHPB.L> and Glencore <GLEN.L> shed about 0.2% and 0.4%, respectively.

German medical technology firm Siemens Healthineers <SHLG.DE> plunged to the bottom of the STOXX 600 after it reported disappointing first-quarter results.

Meanwhile, data showed that manufacturing activity in the euro zone improved slightly better than expected in January.

(Reporting by Ambar Warrick in Bengaluru; Editing by Bernard Orr)