European stocks decline on global virus worries

Norwegian Air tumbles, while banks drag Iseq into the red

European stocks fell on Thursday as investors feared another round of lockdowns due to soaring coronavirus cases globally, with growth-linked cyclical stocks leading losses across regional markets.


The Iseq followed other European indices lower on Thursday, closing 1.4 per cent down.

Cardboard box maker Smurfit Kappa, which announced a €650 million share placing late in the day, was down 1.6 per cent.

Banks were a major drag on the Iseq, with Bank of Ireland 3 per cent lower and AIB losing 1.8 per cent.


Paddy Power parent Flutter also fell, finishing 2.2 per cent weaker, while index heavyweight CRH lost 2.5 per cent.

Other movers included FBD and Glanbia, down 1.4 per cent and 1 per cent respectively.


London stocks slipped on Thursday, as uncertainty over a post-Brexit trade deal with the European Union and surging Covid-19 infections sparked fears of more damage to an already-faltering domestic economic recovery.

The blue-chip Ftse 100 index closed 0.8 per cent lower, with chemicals maker Johnson Matthey tumbling 5.6 per cent after it posted a near 90 per cent slump in half-year profit and refrained from providing an outlook for 2021.

The domestically focused mid-cap Ftse 250 index ended 1 per cent lower.

Outsourcer Mitie Group slipped 6.6 per cent, after it posted a 35 per cent fall in first-half profit and scrapped its interim dividend.

Home improvement retailer Kingfisher fell 2.7 per cent after saying fourth-quarter underlying sales growth has slowed so far.

Royal Mail jumped 3.3 per cent, after raising its annual revenue forecast due to an online shopping boost.


The pan-European Stoxx 600 closed 0.8 per cent lower, easing from an eight-month high hit earlier this week.

Miners, travel, oil and gas, and banking sectors that have rallied strongly in November on positive Covid-19 vaccine data shed almost 2 per cent.

Media stocks rose, while utilities and tech firms posted minor losses.

Norwegian Air slumped 15.7 per cent after it filed for bankruptcy protection as it seeks to stave off collapse amid the pandemic.

Germany's HelloFresh jumped 6.6 per cent after its chief executive said the meal-kit delivery firm would increase its capacity to supply US diners by 50 per cent by mid-2021.

Debt-laden Spanish media firm PRISA surged 21 per cent after it said it had received an offer for El País daily and its other media assets from Spanish businessman Blas Herrero.


Wall Street edged lower on Thursday as new coronavirus restrictions and an unexpected rise in weekly jobless claims raised fears of stalling economic growth in the absence of new stimulus measures.

The S&P 500 index was set for its third straight session of losses, retreating further from its record closing high hit on Monday following positive data on a coronavirus vaccine.

The Nasdaq Composite gained 0.55 per cent, with technology mega-caps Tesla, Alphabet and Amazon rising 0.4-3.1 per cent. Value stocks, which include banks and industrials, slipped 0.6 per cent, while growth-linked stocks, which are perceived to be less risky, logged small gains.

L Brands surged 14.5 per cent after posting better-than-expected quarterly results, helped by record sales growth at Bath & Body Works and higher demand for Victoria's Secret lingerie. Nvidia slipped 1.2 per cent after company executives said data centre chip sales would fall slightly in the fourth quarter.

Charlie Taylor

Charlie Taylor

Charlie Taylor is a former Irish Times business journalist