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Europe: Stocks close slightly up but mark worst week since 2008

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European stocks snapped a six-day losing streak on Friday, but made only a small gain over the course of the day as an initial rebound ran out of steam as the coronavirus sowed further economic turmoil.

[BENGALURU] European stocks snapped a six-day losing streak on Friday, but made only a small gain over the course of the day as an initial rebound ran out of steam as the coronavirus sowed further economic turmoil.

The region's stocks, which were earlier set for their best day since late-2008, swiftly pared gains after Spain declared a state of emergency over the outbreak, while reports that the United States would follow suit added to the pain.

The benchmark Stoxx 600 index closed up 1 per cent, following a record 11.5 per cent crash on Thursday. The index was down 18 per cent for the week, its worst weekly drop since the 2008 financial crisis. "These measures that governments are putting into place are just restrictions to movement - these are necessary measures, but nevertheless, they will have a significant economic impact, which the market is still coming to terms with," said Andrea Cicione, head of strategy at TS Lombard in London.

The Stoxx 600, which sank into bear territory this week, has lost nearly a third of its value from a peak hit in mid-February.

The week, which started with a shock crash in oil prices, followed by increasing signs of disruptions caused by the virus, saw selling pressure break through even the stimulus measures by several major banks.

Spanish stocks ended higher for the day as the bank-heavy IBEX was supported by higher euro zone bond yields. The index bounced back from a near eight-year low.

Italian stocks, which have been among the hardest hit as the country has been the worst-affected in Europe by the coronavirus outbreak, closed up 7 per cent, recovering from a more than seven-year low.

Among the euro zone sub-sectors, resource stocks were the best performers for the day, bouncing back from a four-year low. Mining heavyweights Evraz and BHP Group gained more than 12 per cent each.

Swiss diagnostics maker Roche rose 3.2 per cent after the US Food and Drug Administration issued emergency authorisation for a faster coronavirus test made by the company.

Oil and gas stocks were the worst weekly performers. They fell almost 30 per cent in their worst week ever in the wake of the oil price crash.

Travel and leisure stocks, which have also come under immense pressure from the outbreak, shed 25.1 per cent for the week. The sub-index also ended lower for the day, with British cinema operator Cineworld sinking 30 per cent amid continued concerns over the impact of the outbreak on its business.

Airlines stocks have been particularly hit by the virus curbing movement, with US travel restrictions on Europe adding further pressure. Some airlines are seeking government aid to stay in the air.

REUTERS