Stocks, oil, euro slide on Austria’s partial lockdown
NEW YORK, – European stocks fell Friday along with the euro as Austria announced a new partial lockdown to try to curb surging Covid cases, which also triggered heavy losses for oil prices.
The latest Covid-19 rules in Austria and more limited steps in Germany added pressure to US markets, although the Nasdaq finished at an all-time high on strength in tech shares.
The restrictions in Austria will begin Monday and vaccination against Covid-19 in the eurozone country will become mandatory from February, Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg said.
Fawad Razaqzada, market analyst at ThinkMarkets, warned of a “short-term correction as investors wake up to the risks facing the eurozone economy,” despite the prospect of a weaker euro boosting exports.
“It is not necessarily about Austria,” he said, pointing to “concerns that similar lockdown measures might be introduced to other parts of Europe.”
Bourses in London, Paris and Frankfurt all fell, with travel sector firms especially hard hit as British Airways shed six percent or around œ400m off the carrier’s market capitalization. Oil prices tumbled and the benchmark Brent North Sea oil contract fell about three percent to under $80 per barrel.
Back on Wall Street, both the Dow and S&P 500 retreated as investors largely shrugged off the House’s approval of Biden’s $1.8 trillion package to address climate change and bolster the US safety net, awaiting its passage in the Senate.
But the Nasdaq jumped 0.4 percent to finish above 16,000 points for the first time as markets weighed the risk of economic weakness due to another Covid-19 wave. “What the tech gains could be showing is the reemergence of growth concerns,” said Briefing.com analyst Patrick O’Hare, alluding to the latest Covid-19 restrictions in Europe.
Earlier, Asian stock markets mostly closed higher, but Chinese e-commerce titan Alibaba plunged by more than 10 percent after warning of a weaker outlook following China’s actions on the tech sector and slowing growth in the world’s second-biggest economy.
With Alibaba a big player on Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index, the market dropped more than one percent. Other tech firms including Tencent and XD suffered smaller losses.
Other major Asian indices ended the week higher, with Tokyo up as the government announced plans to inject $490 billion into the Japanese economy to kickstart its recovery from the pandemic.
– Key figures around 2140 GMT –
New York – Dow: DOWN 0.8 percent at 35,601.98 (close)
New York – S&P 500: DOWN 0.1 percent at 4,697.96 (close)
New York – Nasdaq: UP 0.4 percent at 16,057.44 (close)
London – FTSE 100: DOWN 0.4 percent at 7223.57 (close)
Frankfurt – DAX: DOWN 0.4 percent at 16,159.97 (close)
Paris – CAC 40: DOWN 0.4 percent at 7,112.29 (close)
EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 0.6 percent at 4,356.47 (close)
Tokyo – Nikkei 225: UP 0.5 percent at 29,745.87 (close)
Hong Kong – Hang Seng Index: DOWN 1.1 percent at 25,049.97 (close)
Shanghai – Composite: UP 1.1 percent at 3,560.37 (close)
Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.1288 from $1.1371 at 2200 GMT
Euro/pound: DOWN at 83.93 pence from 84.27 pence
Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.3446 from $1.3494
Dollar/yen: DOWN at 114.01 yen from 114.26 yen
Brent North Sea crude: DOWN 2.9 percent at $78.89 per barrel
West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 3.7 percent at $76.10 per barrel