European Shares Decline As Virus Worries Weigh

European stocks slipped from a four-month high on Wednesday as the initial euphoria over an agreement on EU stimulus package faded and the focus shifted back to surging coronavirus cases around the world.

As the U.S. death toll from the coronavirus pandemic topped 142,000, President Donald Trump said the pandemic “will probably, unfortunately, get worse before it gets better”.

Brexit deal talks and rising U.S.-China tensions also remain on investors’ radar.

The British pound weakened after reports suggested that the U.K. is close to abandoning hope of reaching a Brexit trade deal with the EU amid deadlock on key issue.

The United States has asked Beijing to close its diplomatic consulate in Houston within the next 72 hours, the Chinese foreign ministry said, dealing another blow to the rapidly deteriorating relations between the two countries.

The pan European Stoxx 600 fell 1.2 percent to 372.28 after rising 0.3 percent in the previous session. The German DAX dropped 0.7 percent, France’s CAC 40 index tumbled 1.4 percent and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 was down 1 percent.

Shares of Iberdrola S.A. dropped 1.4 percent in Spain after the utility reported that its second-quarter net profit declined 13.6 percent from last year as a result of the lockdown following COVID-19 pandemic.

Dutch supermarkets and eCommerce company Ahold Delhaize N.V. declined 1.3 percent.

The company said that its U.S. brand Stop & Shop reached a tentative agreement to terminate its participation in the United Food & Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) – Industry Pension Fund.

Swiss engineering firm ABB gained 2.4 percent. The company posted better-than-expected results for the April to June period and said it expects improvement in order decline in the coming months.

French car parts maker Valeo SA plunged nearly 10 percent after it swung to a 1.2 billion euro loss in the first half of 2020.

Software AG shares jumped 7.5 percent. The German enterprise software company reconfirmed its current 2020 guidance as a whole after reporting a decline in second-quarter profit.

Kingfisher shares soared 10 percent in London after the home improvement retailer forecast first half underlying profit ahead of last year.

Computacenter surged 11 percent. The IT services firm said its adjusted profit before tax in the first half turned out to be “substantially ahead” of the same period last year.

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