European stocks fell sharply Wednesday; The biggest movers
European stocks fell sharply Wednesday as concerns over a second wave of coronavirus infections, and the timing of a vaccine, weighs on investor sentiment.
The pan-European Stoxx 600 dropped 1.6% in early trade, with autos falling 3.1% to lead losses as all sectors and major bourses slid into negative territory.
European markets are expected to follow the negative trend set in Asia, where investors remained cautious over a recent resurgence in coronavirus cases in certain countries regionally as they start to reopen their economies.
More than 4.2 million people around the world have been infected by the virus now, while 287,158 people have died, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
In the U.S., Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Tuesday a vaccine will be essential in stopping the coronavirus spread, but warned it will be a while before a usable one is available. He also cautioned that the U.S. could risk additional outbreaks if states start to reopen too quickly.
Several countries in Asia, including China and South Korea, have experienced an uptick in cases after restrictions were eased.
On the data front, U.K. GDP (gross domestic product) contracted by 5.8% month-on-month in March, according to preliminary figures released Wednesday, the sharpest monthly decline on record.
Earnings in focus
It was a busy morning for earnings on Wednesday.
Commerzbank swung to a loss in the first quarter as the coronavirus pandemic and increased loan loss provisions weighed on Germany’s second-largest lender. The bank posted a net loss of 295 million euros ($319.99 million). Commerzbank shares fell 3.6% in early trade.
TUI Group announced in its half-year financial report that it will ax up to 8,000 jobs in an effort to cut costs as the pandemic and shutdowns around the world ravage the travel industry. Tui shares edged 0.4% lower.
Shipping giant Maersk posted a 23% rise in first-quarter earnings before tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) but warned of a sharp drop in global container volumes as a result of the pandemic. Moller-Maersk shares slid 5.4%.
ABN AMRO posted a 395 million euro first-quarter loss and warned that provisions for bad loans could soar to 2.5 billion euros this year. The Dutch lender’s shares plunged 6.3% in early trade.
Chipmaker AMS saw its stock slide 7% after unveiling its AGM (annual general meeting) proposals. Cruise operator Carnival also dropped more than 7%.
At the top of the European benchmark, Swiss-listed eyecare company Alcon climbed 7% after its first-quarter earnings.