European shares fall as investors eye data showing virus impact

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(Reuters) – European shares dropped on Friday as markets awaited a local reading on economic health to gauge the extent of the impact of the coronavirus on business activity in the bloc.

The outbreak has killed more than 2,000 people so far and upended industrial activity in China, causing disruptions for several European manufacturers that supply and source products from one of the EU’s largest trading partners.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index () fell 0.5% by 0803 GMT and was set to lose slightly for the week. A raft of weak earnings, particularly in the insurance () and bank () sectors, have weighed on the index over the past week.

Commodity-linked subindexes such as basic resources () and oil and gas () stocks were among the worst performers in early trade.

The IHS Markit’s euro zone flash composite purchasing manufacturer’s index (PMI), due at 0900 GMT, is expected to provide a preliminary reading on business activity in February.

The figure is expected to weaken from the prior month, according to a Reuters poll.

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