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European stocks and U.S. equity futures inch higher as worries simmer over rising COVID-19 cases

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European stocks and U.S. equity futures inch higher as worries simmer over rising COVID-19 cases 2

European stocks and U.S. equity futures inch higher as worries simmer over rising COVID-19 cases 3

A pedestrian wearing a face mask or covering due to the COVID-19 pandemic, walks past a Christmas-themed window display on Oxford Street in central London, England, on November 17, 2020.


AFP via Getty Images

European stocks and U.S. equity futures inched up on Wednesday, as investor worries simmered over rising coronavirus cases worldwide and the effect on economies in coming months.

The Stoxx Europe 600
SXXP,
+0.26%

rose 0.2% to 389.87, after snapping a two-day winning steak on Tuesday. The German DAX
DAX,
+0.34%

and French CAC 40
PX1,
+0.32%

rose 0.3% each, while the FTSE 100
UKX,
-0.07%

was flat.

U.S. equity futures
YM00,
+0.27%

ES00,
+0.19%

NQ00,
+0.27%

pointed higher. Stocks took a breather on Tuesday, though major indexes finished off at their worst levels. Losses came as data showed disappointing retail sales growth, which appeared to overshadow recent upbeat news on the effectiveness of vaccines in development.

Cases of the virus have been surging on both sides of the Atlantic, though European countries may be starting to get a handle on it, as restrictive measures have been in place for weeks in many places. Measures are beginning to appear across several U.S. states.

European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde said on Tuesday that encouraging vaccine news wouldn’t fundamentally change the central bank’s plan to add stimulus.

“I don’t want to downplay the very good news that the vaccines were, but I think that as a central bank, we have to be mindful of not just the short term and the news impact, we have to be mindful of the overall situation,” Lagarde told the Bloomberg New Economy Forum.

One risk, she noted, was if “consumers, investors and employers do not regard the pandemic as a one-off, this V-shape that we all aspired to, but as something that will recur over the course of time and as a result would lead them to completely change their behavior.”

Data showed the strain of rising restrictions. The European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association reported a 7.8% drop in October sales, after a small gain in September.

U.K. data showed a rise in annual consumer-price inflation for October, a gain that was boosted by higher clothing prices.

Among companies on the move, shares of RSA Insurance
RSA,
+3.86%

rose nearly 4% after the insurer said it has agreed to a £7.2 billion ($9.5 billion) takeover offer from Intact Financial
IFC,
+0.35%

and Tryg
TRYG,
-1.99%
.
RSA confirmed details of that offer more than two weeks ago.

Shares of Cie. Financière Richemont
CFR,
-1.34%

fell over 2% on Wednesday, after the luxury-goods maker said it had received shareholder approval for a conditional capital increase. The company plans to issue up to 22 million new A shares.

Air France-KLM shares fell over 3%, after French newspaper Le Monde reported on Tuesday that the struggling airline is in talks to raise another €6 billion from two government stakeholders and investors.

Croda International
CRDA,
+2.72%

said that it will buy Fragrance Spanish Topco — which operates as Iberchem — for €820 million ($972.7 million). The chemicals company said it would fund the transaction via existing debt facilities and an equity placing. Shares rose 1.8%.

A.P. Moeller-Maersk
MAERSK.B,
-1.17%

announced a 10 billion Danish kroner ($1.59 billion) share-buyback program after the Danish shipping giant reporting an earnings rebound on surging demand. The company also raised guidance for a third time. Shares slipped 1%.

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