LONDON — European markets fell sharply on Wednesday as the rapid spread of the coronavirus continues across the continent, while U.S. election uncertainty compounds risk-off sentiment.
The pan-European Stoxx 600 dropped 2.2% by late morning, having earlier hit its lowest point since June, with autos shedding 4% to lead losses as all sectors and major bourses slid into negative territory.
New Covid-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths have continued to surge across Europe and the U.S. in recent days, prompting further restriction measures in many countries. Reports have suggested that France could be heading for a national lockdown in a bid to contain the resurgent outbreak.
Mainland China also reported its highest number of daily new cases for more than two months on Wednesday, while the U.S. is seeing record cases and hospitalizations in parts of the Midwest.
Asia-Pacific markets were mixed in overnight trade as investors monitored the virus, while U.S. stock futures are pointing to a lower open on Wall Street later in the day.
On the vaccine front, Pfizer said Tuesday that data from a late-stage trial of its vaccine developed alongside Germany’s BioNTech will likely not be available until after the Nov. 3 U.S. election, while EU officials have said vaccines are unlikely to be available across Europe until 2022, according to Reuters.
U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday acknowledged that there will be no coronavirus relief bill before election day, with the White House and congressional Democrats still embroiled in protracted negotiations.
On the earnings front, Deutsche Bank on Wednesday reported a net profit of 182 million euros ($214 million) for the third quarter, surpassing expectations to swing back to profit as Germany’s largest lender looks to emerge from the coronavirus crisis. The bank’s shares climbed 3% by late morning trade.
French IT consultancy Sopra Steria also dropped more than 15% to the bottom of the Stoxx 600 after a weak third-quarter trading update.
At the top of the European blue chip index, British airplane engine manufacturer Rolls-Royce soared 28% after investors backed a funding round to help the company weather the pandemic.