European stocks set for worst week in 3 months as COVID-19 cases rise
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* STOXX 600 set for worst week since mid June
* Auto stocks slide as British car production slumps
* Nestle gains after HSBC upgrades to “buy” (Adds comment, updates prices)
Sept 25 (Reuters) - European stocks slipped on Friday, on course for their worst weekly showing in over three months, as fresh restrictions to contain a surge in coronavirus cases in the continent raised concerns about the pace of economic recovery.
The pan-European STOXX 600 index slipped 0.1%, failing to match Asian and Wall Street gains after a top U.S. lawmaker said Democrats in the House of Representatives were working on a $2.2 trillion coronavirus stimulus package that could be voted on next week.
France’s CAC 40 fell 0.7% after the country set a new record of daily COVID-19 infections and the country’s prime minister warned on Thursday that the government could be forced to reconfine areas.
Travel & leisure stocks took a hit, with British Airways-owner IAG, Lufthansa and Air France KLM dropping more than 4%.
Automakers fell about 1% after an industry body said British car production fell by an annual 45% in August as the sector continues to suffer due to the fallout from the virus outbreak.
“New restrictions in Europe, less fiscal support, fading liquidity impulse and election risk should weigh on activity in Q4,” European equity strategists at Barclays wrote in a note. “Economic surprises are starting to roll over from all-time high levels.”
Earlier this week, surveys of purchasing managers pointed to a slowdown in services sector activity in the United States and Europe, even as the manufacturing sector continued to improve, raising doubts about a steady recovery.
Tech stocks slid 0.9%, despite overnight gains for Wall Street peers.
Spanish telephone operator MasMovil edged higher after a local newspaper reported that Vodafone has started talks to buy the company. Vodafone gained 1.3%.
Nestle gained 1.6% after HSBC upgraded the stock to “buy” on expectations of a boost to revenue from its health science unit.
Paris Match publisher Lagardere surged 28.2% after billionaire Bernard Arnault revealed he had built up a direct stake in the firm, which is under siege from several other investors.
Swedish home appliance maker Electrolux rose 3.9% after saying that it would propose reinstating dividends after a recovery in earnings and cash flows during the third quarter.
Italian bank Banco BPM gained 4.7%, extending this week’s rise after talks of takeover interest from Credit Agricole. (Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty and Shounak Dasgupta)