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European Stocks Close Higher, Shaking Off U.S. Stimulus, Virus Concerns

Christian Charisius | DPA
  • The pan-European Stoxx 600 provisionally closed up by almost 0.5%, with oil and gas stocks climbing 1.5% to lead gains.
  • Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced plans to allow several of the Federal Reserve's emergency lending programs to expire on Dec. 31.
  • On Wall Street, stocks fell as rising new coronavirus cases, coupled with questions around central-bank funding for a key emergency programs.

LONDON — European stocks closed higher on Friday as investors looked past spiraling coronavirus cases and a U.S. Treasury decision to spike pandemic relief programs.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 provisionally closed up by almost 0.5%, with oil and gas stocks climbing 1.5% to lead gains as almost all sectors and major bourses entered positive territory.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Thursday announced plans to allow several of the Federal Reserve's emergency lending programs to expire on Dec. 31, reducing the central bank's ability to shore up the financial system.

However, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has agreed to resume negotiations with congressional Democrats over a long-awaited federal Covid-19 relief bill, Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., revealed Thursday.

On Wall Street, stocks fell as rising new coronavirus cases, coupled with questions around central-bank funding for key emergency programs, cast doubt on a swift economic recovery.

Global markets had been receiving a boost up until Wednesday after Pfizer and Moderna announced successful coronavirus vaccine trials, with the pan-European Stoxx 600 notching an 8-month high and Wall Street surging to records. However, the rally stalled midweek as widespread spikes in virus cases, particularly in the U.S. and Europe, cause policymakers to consider fresh lockdown measures.

Pfizer and BioNTech announced Friday that they would apply to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for emergency authorization for the vaccine, which latest trial results indicated was 95% effective.

Back in Europe, direct Brexit talks have been suspended after a member of the EU team tested positive for Covid-19 on Thursday, but chief negotiators and their respective teams have continued discussions remotely in the hope of thrashing out a deal within the next 10 days.

In terms of individual share price moves, shares of Sage Group plunged more than 13% as the British software company's profit dipped following a cloud investment.

Toward the top of the European blue chip index, ailing German conglomerate Thyssenkrupp saw its shares climb more than 4% after announcing it would cut a further 5,000 jobs to ease the impact from the pandemic on its various businesses.

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