COVID-19: European Markets Drop As EU Fails To Strike Bailout

European stock markets mostly declined Wednesday as EU finance ministers failed to agree on a coronavirus bailout package for hard-hit countries such as Italy and Spain.

The euro dropped against the dollar and pound, while oil prices gained ahead of a crucial producers’ meeting on possible output cuts.

Eurozone finance ministers Wednesday failed to agree on a rescue plan to help struggling member states face the coronavirus outbreak.

“European Union dysfunctionality is the talk of the town… with overnight squabbles seeing finance ministers ultimately fail in their bid to introduce an aid package worth half-a-trillion euros,” said Joshua Mahony, senior market analyst at IG trading group.

The Bank of France, meanwhile, said the nation’s economy contracted six percent in the first quarter, putting it in recession and marking the worst performance since 1945.

The German economy, Europe’s biggest, is expected to shrink by nearly 10 percent in the second quarter as the coronavirus paralyses the country, leading research institutes warned Wednesday.

“The corona pandemic will trigger a serious recession in Germany,” the six think tanks including Ifo, DIW and RWI said in their annual spring report.

Meanwhile, world trade is expected to fall by between 13 percent and 32 percent in 2020, the World Trade Organization said, as the body’s chief Roberto Azevedo warned we are facing the “deepest economic recession or downturn of our lives.”

While the deadly disease continues to sweep across the planet, there are signs that the rate of infections might be levelling out and countries are preparing to ease some lockdown restrictions.

This has instilled a semblance of optimism in markets this week, but analysts said uncertainty about how long the crisis will last and the damage it will inflict on the global economy was keeping traders on edge and hobbling any sustained rally.

Wall Street moved higher at the opening bell, with the Dow climbing 1.2 percent.

In Asian trading, Tokyo jumped more than two percent, helped by a weaker yen and details of Japan’s huge stimulus package worth $1 trillion amid a month-long state of emergency for Tokyo and six other regions in the country following a spike in coronavirus cases.

The remaining markets in the region fell, following on losses overnight from New York.

– Oil higher –

Oil prices climbed Wednesday, but the commodity continues to swing as traders keenly await Thursday’s planned meeting of the world’s top producers to discuss a possible output cut.

Crude oil has been battered by the virus as lockdowns around the world bring the global economy to a standstill and dampen demand, while a price war between Russia and Saudi Arabia has compounded the crisis.

With Riyadh and Moscow taking part, there are hopes they may draw a line under their dispute.

Howie Lee, an economist at Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp. said that while a cut of 10 million barrels “would lend some support to prices”, US participation was key, otherwise other producers would not be likely to take part.

Energy ministers from the Group of 20 advanced economies are to discuss the issue on Friday.

– Key figures around 1330 GMT –

London – FTSE 100: DOWN 0.8 percent at 5,660.08 points

Frankfurt – DAX 30: DOWN 0.3 percent at 10,320.98

Paris – CAC 40: DOWN 0.7 percent at 4,406.35

Milan – FTSE MIB: DOWN 0.5 percent at 17,331.59

Madrid – IBEX 35: DOWN 1.1 percent at 6,928.30

EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 0.8 percent at 2,835.57

New York – Dow: UP 1.2 percent at 22,924.97

Tokyo – Nikkei 225: UP 2.1 percent at 19,353.24 (close)

Hong Kong – Hang Seng: DOWN 1.2 percent at 23,970.37 (close)

Shanghai – Composite: DOWN 0.2 percent at 2,815.37 (close)

Brent North Sea crude: UP 0.4 percent at $32.00 per barrel

West Texas Intermediate: UP 2.6 percent at $24.25 per barrel

Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.0882 from $1.0890 at 2050 GMT

Dollar/yen: UP at 108.94 yen from 108.83 yen

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.2385 from $1.2334

Euro/pound: DOWN at 87.88 pence from 88.28.


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