European equity markets pause for breath following surge

Markets report: Losses in technology and healthcare stocks halt a recent rally

European shares pulled back from three-month highs on Monday, with losses in technology and healthcare stocks halting a recent rally on hopes of a post-coronavirus economic recovery.

Wall Street’s main indexes rose heading into afternoon trading, building on last week’s sharp gains after a surprisingly upbeat jobs report raised bets of a swift recovery.


The Iseq fell back by about 1 per cent as strong performances from some banks were outweighed by slippage among other major stocks, such as CRH. The building materials giant fell by 4 per cent to close the session at €31.82.

Forecourts retailer Applegreen was buoyed by the continued reopening of the economy, which will put more cars on the road. It closed ahead by 4.5 per cent at €4.18 per share.


Bank of Ireland surged by 7.3 per cent to €2.02 on the back of the general economic reopening, as well as the effects of ECB stimulus.

Ryanair fell 1 per cent to €12.80 as it vowed not to cancel UK flights, even though the government there has so far not blinked on scrapping a 14-day quarantine for travellers that the airline describes as "rubbish".


British stocks ended lower after a series of strong sessions as heavyweight AstraZeneca slipped on a report that it had approached Gilead Sciences for a merger, while broader concerns over corporate debt also weighed.

The FTSE 100 slipped 0.2 per cent and AstraZeneca shed 2.7 per cent, serving as the biggest weight on the index. Bloomberg News reported on Sunday about the British firm's approach for a possible megamerger with its US rival.

BP rose 1 per cent after Reuters reported that the oil and gas heavyweight will cut about 15 per cent of its workforce.

Plus500 slid 4.4 per cent after the online trading platform said its quarterly revenue took a hit from client trading wins. Oxford Biomedica climbed 4.8 per cent after the gene and cell therapy firm said it signed a new manufacturing agreement to help it scale up production of AstraZeneca's potential Covid-19 vaccine.


The pan-European Stoxx 600 closed 0.3 per cent lower, as investors moved out of sectors that remained resilient during the coronavirus-led sell-off earlier this year, while bidding up laggards such as banks and oil and gas firms. Europe’s healthcare index dropped 0.6 per cent after news emerged of the AstraZeneca approach to US rival Gilead Sciences about a possible merger.

Tech stocks were led lower by chipmakers ASML, ASM International and STMicroelectronics, which fell more than 4 per cent. Europe's tech index is just 4.5 per cent below its all-time high.

Euro zone banks jumped 2 per cent, helping lender-heavy bourses in Spain and Italy outperform, supported by a bigger-than-expected pandemic-related stimulus by the European Central Bank last week.

Oil majors Royal Dutch Shell and Total rose between 0.7 per cent and 3 per cent as crude prices climbed after major producers agreed to extend a deal on record output cuts.

Danske Bank jumped 7.5 per cent after Estonian bank LHV agreed to buy its Estonian corporate and public sector credit portfolio. German card payments company Wirecard dropped 1.7 per cent after prosecutors opened proceedings against its entire management board as part of a market manipulation probe.


Beaten-down shares of cruise operators Carnival and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings continued to recover and rose 13.1 per cent and 11.4 per cent, respectively. The S&P 1500 airlines index jumped 5.7 per cent.

Planemaker Boeing gained 13 per cent, extending its 40 per cent surge last week. Aiding sentiment, major oil producers agreed to extend a deal on record output cuts over the weekend. The energy sector climbed 2.4 per cent, the most among the 11 major S&P sectors.

Electric carmaker Tesla rose 4.9 per cent after China sales of Shanghai-made Model 3 vehicles more than tripled in May, compared with the previous month. Stay-at-home stocks such as Netflix, video conferencing platform Zoom Video Communications and trade and workplace messaging platform Slack Technologies fell between 1.9 per cent and 4 per cent after surging during lockdowns.

Additional reporting: Reuters

Mark Paul

Mark Paul

Mark Paul is London Correspondent for The Irish Times