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Europe: Pandemic restrictions weigh on shares

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European shares ended lower on Monday as surging Covid-19 cases raised the possibility of further economic restrictions, outweighing optimism from signs of progress on a Brexit trade deal and hopes of fiscal stimulus in the United States.

[BENGALURU] European shares ended lower on Monday as surging Covid-19 cases raised the possibility of further economic restrictions, outweighing optimism from signs of progress on a Brexit trade deal and hopes of fiscal stimulus in the United States.

As daily Covid-19 cases in Italy hit a new record over the weekend, the country approved shutting public squares from 9pm to halt gatherings. In Spain, many regions toughened curbs as the country looked set to set breach 1 million cases this week.

While Wales imposed a two-week lockdown, Britain's government scientific adviser said the country needs to impose a three-week period of national lockdown.

"With Wales, Spain, and Belgium all tightening restrictions further... we are seeing significant fears arise over the potential economic impact this could have upon the recovery,"said Joshua Mahony, senior market analyst at online trader IG.

"The lockdown in Wales does highlight the potential path forward for others, with more localised action looking a precursor to more drastic measures."

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A surging pound added to woes for London's FTSE 100 led losses, down 0.6 per cent.

The currency rose after the European Union said it is ready to intensify talks towards a deal on future trade ties with Britain.

Tech major SAP weighed on Germany's DAX, while France CAC 40 turned to losses at close. Exchange operator Euronext resumed trading after it fixed a technical glitch that froze all transactions in Paris, Amsterdam, Brussels and Lisbon for more than three hours.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 index closed down 0.3 per cent after trading flat in the second half. Hopes of a Covid-19 vaccine by year-end, and signs an agreement in Washington on a fiscal package could be reached soon, had buoyed sentiment in morning trade.

At the top of Stoxx 600 was Swiss wealth manager Julius Baer which jumped 6 per cent after it indicated an improvement in profitability for the first nine months of 2020.

The broader financial services sector rose 1 per cent, with Credit Suisse and UBS rising 4.4 per cent and 3 per cent, respectively.

European third-quarter earnings are forecast to recover from a pandemic-led slump, with analysts expecting companies on the Stoxx 600 to report an average 36.7 per cent drop, compared with a 51 per cent drop in the previous quarter, according to Refinitiv data.

Nokia posted its best session in over two months after it was selected by NASA to build the first cellular network on the moon.

Swedish defence company Saab sank 14.3 per cent after it reported a fall in third-quarter profit and could not confirm its previous financial outlook for the year.

REUTERS

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