European Stocks Decline on Trump Virus Woes as M&A Stocks Gain
(Bloomberg) — European equities retreated after President Donald Trump tested positive for the coronavirus, fueling uncertainty a month before the U.S. election.The Stoxx 600 index was down 0.6% at 10:49 a.m. in London, paring a drop of as much as 1.2%. While retail, oil and travel stocks led the declines, construction and media shares advanced. Still, European losses were muted compared with U.S. futures where S&P 500 e-mini futures tumbled 1.6%.Trump announced early Friday that he and First Lady Melania Trump had tested positive for Covid-19, shortly after one of his closest aides, Hope Hicks, had fallen ill with the coronavirus. The news fueled concerns among market players about the outcome of the U.S. election and Trump’s ability to campaign and govern.“With some key state polls tight and this positive test coming so close to the election, this development will just add to the uncertainty rippling through the markets,” said Susannah Streeter, senior investment and markets analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown. “There is a chance there could be a sympathy vote for Trump, but given he’s been forced into quarantine, it will cut down the time he can spend on the stump trying to win over wavering voters.”According to Berenberg Bank’s Ulrich Urbahn, the rising odds of Joe Biden’s victory in the U.S. election bode well for European and emerging-market equities. European stocks have underperformed the U.S. since the March rebound.Energy shares lost ground again today, with crude prices tumbling. A gauge for the sector is set to post a fifth consecutive weekly loss. Oil stocks have severely underperformed the broader market amid a poor demand outlook, with BP Plc and Royal Dutch Shell Plc hitting their lowest level in 25 years this week.Among the biggest gainers, the focus was on the news that Spanish engineering company ACS is holding talks to sell its industrial division to French toll-road operator Vinci SA for about 5.2 billion euros ($6.1 billion). Both stocks surged, with ACS jumping 19% and Vinci adding 3.8%.While the pandemic continues to weigh on M&A activity — the value of announced deals involving a European company fell 11% year-on-year in the third quarter to $266 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg — there have been signs of a pick-up in the region. European deal volumes in the three months ended Sept. 30, which includes the typically quiet summer period, were up 63% on the second quarter.The region’s volatility index, the VStoxx, rose to 27.35, near a one-week high, while the U.S. VIX Index climbed to 28.89, near a three-week high.Investors also continued watching the developments around Brexit talks. The FTSE 100 index was down 0.8% and the FTSE 250 lost 0.7% as the pound climbed on the optimism that Prime Minister Boris Johnson will intervene in negotiations for the first time since June when he holds talks on Saturday with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in an attempt to unlock a deal.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.