Coronavirus: European stocks sink amid surge in infections

Edmund Heaphy
Finance and news reporter
Helpers bring food to families who are quarantined in Germany following an outbreak of coronavirus at a meat processor in the town of Rheda-Wiedenbrück. Photo: Martin Meissner/AP Photo

Stocks fell in the US and Europe on Wednesday as new outbreaks in Germany and Japan and a “disturbing surge” in the US raised fears about a spike in coronavirus cases across the world.

Reports that the US is considering new tariffs on $3.1bn (£2.5bn) worth of exports from France, Germany, Spain, and the UK also dented the mood of investors.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index (^STOXX) fell by around 1.8%. London’s FTSE 100 (^FTSE) was down by around 2.3%.

Germany’s DAX (^GDAXI) declined by around 2.2%, while France’s CAC 40 (^FCHI) was 2% in the red.

Late on Tuesday, officials in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia imposed a second localised lockdown after more than 1,500 workers at a meat processing plant tested positive for coronavirus.

READ MORE: Conditions at meat plants cause COVID-19 outbreak problems in Europe

The number of daily infections in Tokyo on Tuesday reached their highest level in nearly two months, while Anthony Fauci, the White House’s top infectious diseases expert, warned that the US was experiencing a “disturbing surge” in coronavirus cases.

The S&P 500 (^GSPC) was down by around 1.4%, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI) declined by around 1.5%. Shares on the Nasdaq (^IXIC) fell by around 1%.

Seven US states — Arizona, Arkansas, California, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas — reported a record number of coronavirus hospitalisations on Tuesday.

“This isn’t a second wave, but rather a continuation of the first,” said Connor Campbell, a financial analyst at Spreadex.

“Understandably investors were rather worried about this news, especially since it follows on from the recent outbreak in Beijing, a new cluster of cases in Tokyo, a record one-day total for new cases in Mexico and Monday’s reports that Germany’s R rate has crossed the crucial 1 level due to thousands of cases at an abattoir,” he said.

The declines in Europe followed a broadly positive session in Asia, where stocks overall touched a four-month high.

READ MORE: UK businesses owed £133bn since lockdown began

China’s SSE Composite Index (^SSEC) rose by 0.3% on Wednesday, while the Hang Seng (^HSI) was down by less than 0.1% in Hong Kong at market close.

Japan’s Nikkei (^N225) also closed less than 0.1% in the red, while the KOSPI Composite Index (^KOSPI) in South Korea was up by 1.4%. Australia’s ASX 200 (^AXJO) rose by just over 0.1%.

Futures were pointing to a lower open for US stocks on Wednesday.

S&P 500 futures (ES=F) fell by more than 1.1%, while Dow Jones Industrial Average futures (YM=F) declined by 1.2%. Nasdaq futures (NQ=F), meanwhile, were down by around 0.8%.