European stocks continued to struggle on Wednesday, as extended lockdowns in Germany and the Netherlands have sparked concerns of a slower economic recovery for the region. But fresh data indicated growth could be returning.
Chip makers were standout gainers after upbeat news from U.S. chip making giant Intel.
After losses across Asian markets, the Stoxx Europe 600 index
fell 0.3%, following a 0.2% drop on Tuesday. The German DAX
dropped 0.5%, the French CAC 40
slid 0.3% and the FTSE 100
fell 0.2%. The pound
also eased as the dollar
U.S. equity futures
turned higher, led by a 1% gain for Nasdaq-100
futures. The Nasdaq Composite
finished 1.2% higher on Tuesday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average
and S&P 500
halting a two-day skid, underpinned by a modest pullback in U.S. Treasury yields.
Losses in Europe were led by banks as yields
were down 2%.
With investors rattled by fresh restrictions in major economies such as Germany and the Netherlands, there was some brighter news via a preliminary “flash” reading of the IHS Markit eurozone composite purchasing managers index, which rose to 52.5 in March from 48.8 in February.
“By rising above 50.0, the latest reading indicated the first increase in business activity since last September, with the current expansion the largest recorded since last July and the second-steepest seen over the past 28 months,” said IHS Markit.
Vaccine news will remain in focus, with the European Union on Wednesday expected to announce draft emergency legislation that will allow it to control exports of COVID-19 vaccines, according to a report in the New York Times. That is a day after drug company AstraZeneca
remained pressure, a day after oil prices tumbled 6% into correction territory over concerns about COVID-19 lockdowns crimping demand and economic rebounds. Both U.S.
and global oil prices
clawed back some ground on Wednesday. U.S. crude rose 0.7% and Brent gained 1% after a massive cargo ship got stuck in Egypt’s Suez Canal, a vital waterway for global shipments.
Shares of semiconductor companies ASML Holding
“Intel’s update yesterday pointed to elevated and sustained capex in the near future, a positive for the semiconductor equipment industry,” said Tammy Qiu, analyst at Berenberg, in a note to clients.
Shares of Carrefour
rose 0.4%. The French retail chain said its Brazilian unit has entered into an agreement with U.S. retail giant Walmart
and private-equity firm Advent International to buy Brazilian food retailer Grupo BIG Brasil in a deal valuing the company at roughly €1.1 billion ($1.30 billion).