The FTSE 100 finished 0.57% down, while the French CAC and the German DAX ended were down 0.08 and 0.06, respectively
Stock markets in Europe stumbled into the red on Thursday as growing fears of a third wave in Europe dragged on sentiment, and the European vaccines summit met via video conference.
In London, the FTSE 100 finished 0.57% down due to pressure from a rising pound, while the French CAC and the German DAX ended flat, down 0.08 and 0.06, respectively.
It came as the EU is deciding on whether to ban vaccine exports during a two-day summit today.
According to a draft final statement seen by Reuters, the 27 EU members will also discuss ways to accelerate vaccinations across the bloc, as well as industrial policy and relations with Turkey and Russia.
Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets UK, said: Tensions between the EU and UK still remain fairly elevated, despite efforts to cool the narrative, while the recent comments from Thierry Breton, the EU’s internal market commissioner, accusing the UK of vaccine nationalism still suggest the potential for a misstep, as feelings continue to run high, particularly on the EU side, where the sense of grievance remains especially elevated.
He adds: Sentiment in Europe continues to remain fragile after German chancellor Angela Merkel was forced into a sharp U-turn over her decision to announce a full five-day lockdown over the Easter period, as the German government’s response to their rising crisis shows further signs of coming apart at the seams.
In the US, the S&P 500 gained 0.07% at the time of the European close, after starting the day lower, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq dropped 0.03%. The Dow Jones rose 0.09%.
It came as US GDP grew at an annualised rate of 4.3% in Q4, according to the final estimate from the Bureau of Economic Analysis. This was higher than the previously reported figures of 4.1%.
Jobless claims also dropped to 736,000 in the week to 20 March, from 749,000 in the previous week, which was revised slightly higher, showed data from the US Labour Department.
Asian equities wobbled between gains and losses on Thursday as a selloff in Chinese technology shares amid concerns they will be delisted from US bourses and worries about a semiconductor shortage rattled investors.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan dropped overnight. The index is close to wiping out all the gains so far this year.
Hong Kong shares declined sharply at the open but then erased most of its losses, the Hang Seng finished just 0.06% lower. Alibaba Group, Xiaomi Corp, and Tencent Holdings all traded lower. Shares in China advanced 0.28%.
The Shanghai Composite slipped 0.1% and the Nikkei jumped 1.14% while other key markets lagged.
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