/European markets choppy after Wednesdays sell-off, ECB in focus – CNBC

European markets choppy after Wednesdays sell-off, ECB in focus – CNBC

LONDON — European markets whipsawed on Thursday morning as investors digest new lockdown measures in France and Germany and await the European Central Bank’s latest monetary policy decision.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 was 0.2% higher in early trade after a choppy open. The tech sector added 1.1%, while insurance stocks fell 0.9%.

European stocks suffered their worst single-day drop since late September on Wednesday as Germany and France announced fresh lockdown measures in a bid to fend off the new wave of Covid-19 cases sweeping through Europe. The British government is also under pressure to tighten restrictions with cases doubling every nine days, according to a new study by Imperial College London.

Markets are also skittish ahead of the U.S. election on Nov. 3, soaring coronavirus cases stateside and diminishing hopes of imminent fiscal stimulus. Wall Street suffered its worst sell-off for several months on Wednesday with the Dow dropping 934 points. Futures indicate a positive open Thursday.

Shares in Asia-Pacific also fell overnight on Thursday following the Wall Street plunge, with South Korean and Australian stocks both falling by around 1.7% to lead losses.

Back in Europe, focus Thursday will shift to the ECB’s interest rate decision at 12:45 p.m. London time, while October’s final consumer confidence and industrial, economic and services sentiment readings for the euro zone are due at 10 a.m.

The U.K. on Thursday is expected to lambast both the EU and the U.S. over their “pernicious” trade practices as the country looks to secure post-Brexit trading arrangements with both key allies.

Earnings in focus

Corporate earnings remain on investors’ radar, with Credit Suisse on Thursday posting a 38% fall in net profit for the third quarter, as the coronavirus pandemic and “significant foreign exchange headwinds” weigh on the bank’s earnings.

Net income attributable to shareholders came in at 546 million Swiss francs ($600 million), significantly below the 679 million Swiss francs that analysts had expected, according to Reuters Eikon. The Swiss lender’s shares fell more than 4.5% in early trade.

Oil major Royal Dutch Shell on Thursday reported better-than-expected third-quarter earnings of $955 million and announced plans to increase its dividend to shareholders. Shares traded 3.5% higher.

BT shares climbed 5% after the telecoms firm announced first-half earnings in line with expectations and raising its guidance. German software company Nemetschek was the biggest gainer on the Stoxx 600, adding more than 9% after raising its outlook.

At the bottom of the European blue chip index, Finnish telecoms giant Nokia plunged more than 17% after cutting its guidance for 2020 and setting its 2021 target below market expectations.

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