Stocks – Small Gains in Europe but Virus Prompts Caution

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By Peter Nurse – European stock markets traded marginally higher Monday, rebounding after Friday’s hefty losses, but sentiment remains weak as China’s coronavirus continues to claim victims.

At 04:00 ET (09:00 GMT), the U.K.’s index was trading 20 points, or 0.3%, higher, France’s was up 18 points, or 0.3%, while the gained 49 points, or 0.4%. The , which measures the movement of blue chip stocks in the eurozone, rose 13 points, 0.4%.

All the major European indexes lost well over 1% Friday amid concerns over the economic repercussions of the outbreak, and so a partial rebound is understandable. Helping were the release of final manufacturing PMI numbers for Germany, France and Italy, all coming in slightly above initial releases.

The final eurozone manufacturing PMI rose to 47.9, its highest since March last year but still clearly below the 50 line that separates growth from contraction.

The overall tone remains one of caution after financial markets on the Chinese mainland reopened to sharp losses after a government-extended Lunar New Year holiday. The blue-chip Shanghai index closed almost 8% lower, a one-year low. Hong Kong markets, which had reopened last week, edged up 0.2%.

The death toll in Asia continued to climb as of early Monday, reaching 361 out of 17,205 confirmed cases, .

In Europe, the focus was on M&A, as payments company Worldline (PA:) said it has agreed to buy French peer Ingenico (PA:), in a deal which the companies said would create the fourth-biggest payments company in the world. Shares in Worldline dropped 3.5%, while Ingenico climbed over 12%.

Shares in Ryanair (LON:) climbed 4.8% after posting a profit of 88 million euros ($97 million) for the third quarter. The airline added that delays in the delivery of Boeing’s 737 MAX planes mean it would have to put back its target of flying 200 million passengers in the year to 2025 or 2026, from March 2024 as previously planned.

Elsewhere, Swiss wealth manager Julius Baer (SIX:) slumped over 4% after posting a 37% drop in full year net profit for 2019, while Siemens Healthineers (DE:) dropped 4.7% after its operating income slipped 11% in the first quarter of its fiscal year.

On Wall Street, Google parent Alphabet (NASDAQ:) will report on Monday, This will be the company’s first time facing investors after it announced that Sundar Pichai would take over as CEO, after previously being in charge of just the Google section.

AT 04:00 AM ET (0900 GMT), futures traded 0.2% lower at $51.45 and the international benchmark contract rose 0.6% to $56.27. for February delivery on New York’s COMEX were 0.5% lower at $1,580.65.

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