European shares end lower as IMF warns on cost of pandemic

Covid-19 worries weigh on airlines, while tech and energy stocks also fall

An empty early-morning Tube carriage in London as new Covid-19 restrictions were introduced in England. Stock markets were lower on Thursday amid Covid concerns. Photograph: Martin Keene/PA

An empty early-morning Tube carriage in London as new Covid-19 restrictions were introduced in England. Stock markets were lower on Thursday amid Covid concerns. Photograph: Martin Keene/PA


European shares ended lower on Thursday amid Covid-19 worries, while technology stocks and energy companies also slid.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) warned the pandemic could turn out far more costly than estimated, undoing the impact of optimism about the effectiveness of vaccines against the Omicron variant.

Oil prices slipped as a ratings downgrade for two Chinese property developers stoked fears over the economic health of China, the world’s biggest oil importer.


The Iseq finished 0.4 per cent lower as Ryanair fell in line with other airlines on worries about the impact of tougher Covid-19 restrictions in England. Ryanair declined 1.2 per cent to €15.03.

Food group Kerry rose almost 2.2 per cent to €113.15. Early in the session chief executive Edmond Scanlon moved to snap up more than €1.1 million of shares, taking advantage of a near 15 per cent drop in its share price since July. The 10,000 shares were acquired at €110.925 each just after 8am.

Elsewhere, building materials group CRH fell 0.85 per cent to €44.55 and packaging company Smurfit Kappa edged down 0.3 per cent to €46.48.

The banks also finished the day in the red, with Bank of Ireland 1.55 per cent lower at €4.95 and AIB 0.7 per cent weaker at €2.15.


The FTSE 100 closed 0.2 per cent lower as falls for travel stocks overshadowed a clutch of positive earnings reports. The mid-cap FTSE 250 index lost 0.4 per cent.

Airline stocks Wizz Air, EasyJet and Aer Lingus-owner IAG fell more than 2 per cent each after tougher Covid-19 restrictions were imposed.

Transport company FirstGroup fell 5.7 per cent after warning of uncertainty in the pace of its recovery. Rolls-Royce declined 3.4 per cent on fears that a drop in air travel could hit its business that makes and maintains aircraft engines.

Drugmaker AstraZeneca rose 0.9 per cent after US health regulators authorised the use of its antibody cocktail to prevent Covid-19 infections.

Cardboard-maker DS Smith gained 1.2 per cent after posting an 80 per cent surge in first-half profit and declaring a higher interim dividend.


The pan-European Stoxx 600 erased early gains to dip 0.1 per cent, continuing a mid-week wobble on concerns Omicron could dent global economic recovery. In Frankfurt, the Dax slipped 0.35 per cent, while the Cac 40 in Paris was down just 0.1 per cent.

Deutsche Bank dropped 3.4 per cent after the Wall Street Journal reported the US justice department had said the bank failed to tell prosecutors about an internal complaint in its asset-management arm’s sustainable investing business.

UniCredit surged 10.8 per cent to the top of Italy’s blue-chip FTSE MIB after the company said it aimed to increase its net profit on average by 10 per cent a year through to 2024.

Polish fashion retailer LPP jumped 14.7 per cent, hitting an all-time high after reporting better-than-expected third-quarter results.

French waste and water management company Veolia led utility stocks after sources said it was set to secure EU antitrust approval along with Suez for their €13 billion tie-up.


Wall Street slipped in early trading after three straight days of gains as focus turned towards inflation data for clues on the Federal Reserve’s policy decision.

Heavyweight technology stocks including Microsoft, Nvidia and Tesla fell to weigh the most on the Nasdaq index.

Apple rose, with the iPhone-maker’s shares closing in on a $3 trillion valuation that would make the company as big as the world’s fifth-largest economy after Germany.

Amazon. com dipped 0.2 per cent after Italy’s antitrust watchdog fined the e-commerce giant $1.28 billion for alleged abuse of market dominance.

GameStop fell 6.5 per cent after it was issued a subpoena by the US securities regulator back in August for documents on an investigation into its share trading activity. – Additional reporting: Reuters