European stocks end lower over new wave of coronavirus

Easter lockdown in Germany raises fears of slow economic recovery from pandemic

European stocks eased from a one-year peak on Tuesday, as a new wave of coronavirus infection and a fresh lockdown in Germany raised fears of a slow economic recovery from the pandemic.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 index fell 0.2 per cent after a new round of sanctions aimed at China hit Asian markets. Germany's Dax was flat after Chancellor Angela Merkel decided to extend a lockdown until April 18th and called on citizens to stay at home for five days over the Easter holidays.


The Iseq closed down 0.2 per cent at 7,934. Ryanair fell 2 per cent to €15.51 as airline stocks across Europe suffered another slump amid fears that a new wave of the virus could prolong existing lockdowns or spark new ones.

Yew Grove Reit, the Dublin-listed owner of office and industrial assets outside Dublin's city centre, was up 5 per cent at 94 cent after signalling this week that a possible €50 million share sale as soon as late March to reboot its growth strategy. Homebuilders Cairn and Glenveagh had mixed fortunes falling 0.9 per cent and rising 1.1 per cent respectively as both companies awaited the Government's decision on whether to ease restrictions on construction. About 60 per cent of construction sites have been closed since early January as part of wider measures to curb coronavirus. Food group Kerry rose 3 per cent to €107.10 while rival Glanbia rose 0.8 per cent to €12.44.


The FTSE 100 finished lower amid concerns over vaccine distribution in the EU and the threat of a potential vaccine export ban. The decline in London’s leading market came despite a slump in value of the pound, which would typically benefit large London-based multinationals, after disappointing jobs figures on Tuesday morning.

The FTSE 100 closed 26.91 points or 0.4 per cent lower. British Airways-owner IAG, EasyJet and travel company TUI all fell between 2.6 per cent and 6 per cent.

Rolls-Royce slid in value after Norway blocked the sale of its Bergen Engines arm to Russia's biggest train maker on national security grounds.

Housebuilder Crest Nicholson saw shares jump after its sales bounced on the back of the stamp duty holiday.


The Stoxx 600 last week climbed to its highest since February, recouping most of the pandemic-driven losses on hopes that vaccination drives and stimulus measures will spur a strong economic rebound. The gains have slowed this week amid worries about a surge in Covid-19 cases.

The tally of new cases in France accelerated despite the start of a third lockdown, while Austria postponed the reopening of cafe and restaurants. Swedish truckmaker Volvo slumped 7 per cent after it warned a shortage of semiconductors would have a substantial impact on production in the second quarter.

Swiss drugmaker Roche fell 1.7 per cent after it dropped a late-stage trial of its Huntington's disease treatment hope, tominersen. Swiss online pharmacy chain Zur Rose surged to the top of Stoxx 600 after Morgan Stanley started coverage with an "overweight" rating.


The S&P 500 edged lower on Tuesday in seesaw trade on sliding financial and energy stocks that have benefitted recently from a sharp rise in market interest rates, while beaten-down tech stocks rebounded in a reversal of trends the past few days.

Rates edged lower as Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell told US lawmakers that a coming round of post-pandemic price hikes will not fuel a destructive breakout of persistent inflation.

Shares of GameStop dropped 4.1 per cent ahead of the company's fourth-quarter results due after markets close. The videogame retailer announced the exit of its chief customer officer in the latest sign of a broader overhaul into an e-commerce firm.

ViacomCBS tumbled about 5 per cent after the media firm launched $3 billion stock deals to raise capital for investments in streaming.

– Additional reporting: Reuters

Eoin Burke-Kennedy

Eoin Burke-Kennedy

Eoin Burke-Kennedy is Economics Correspondent of The Irish Times