By Barbara Kollmeyer
European equities struggled for traction on Friday, as nervousness set in ahead of the weekend, with American election results and soaring COVID-19 infections on both sides of the Atlantic in focus.
On the heels of a 1% gain on Thursday, its fifth-straight positive close, the Stoxx Europe 600 index /zigman2/quotes/210599654/delayed XX:SXXP -1.01% dropped 0.2%. The index was set for its best weekly return — 7% — since the week ending June 5. The German DAX 30 index /zigman2/quotes/210597999/delayed DX:DAX -1.44% fell 0.6%, the French CAC 40 /zigman2/quotes/210597958/delayed FR:PX1 -1.22% slid 0.4%, but the FTSE 100 index /zigman2/quotes/210598409/delayed UK:UKX -0.97% departed from that trend with a 0.2% rise.
U.S. stocks /zigman2/quotes/210599714/realtime SPX -0.72% /zigman2/quotes/210598065/realtime DJIA -0.57% /zigman2/quotes/210598365/realtime COMP -0.87% opened mostly flat , shaking off bigger losses seen in the premarket session after better-than-expected jobs data for October. U.S. stocks closed out the fourth-straight session of gains on Thursday and were set for the best weekly return since April.
“The ongoing risk-on phase that has been driving stocks sharply higher appears to be borne of the fact that even if Biden does take the White House, his progressive wings could be clipped by the likely inability to take both Senate and House,” said Joshua Mahony, senior market analyst at IG, in a note to clients.
Democratic challenger Joe Biden appeared to be moving closer to winning the White House over incumbent President Donald Trump, whose campaign has launched legal challenges to voting results for several states. On Friday, Biden pulled ahead of Trump in Georgia and Pennsylvania ballot-counting.
The result could still go either way. Biden needs to win in just one of four swing states yet to be called — Georgia, Nevada, North Carolina and Pennsylvania — while Trump needs to win in all four. Trump repeated claims of election fraud, without providing any evidence to back this up, in a news conference late Thursday.
Coronavirus remains a chief worry for investors. The U.S. notched more than 100,000 new coronavirus cases for a second straight day on Thursday, the only country to reach that daily marker . That’s as several European countries have imposed lockdowns and curfews to contain the virus.
Denmark will cull its entire mink population of up to 17 million after a mutation of the coronavirus found in the animals spread to humans.
Auto stocks weighed on the downside, while miners were supporting the larger Europe index. Shares of Daimler /zigman2/quotes/201850364/delayed XE:DAI -2.68% dropped 2% and those for Volkswagen /zigman2/quotes/206919008/delayed XE:VOW -0.71% fell 1.3%. Shares of miner Anglo American /zigman2/quotes/201381512/delayed UK:AAL -5.31% rose 2.2%
Shares of several European companies were active after results. Allianz /zigman2/quotes/210095234/delayed XE:ALV -0.52% stock rose 1% after the German insurer reported higher third-quarter net profit . The company said it would discontinue a previously suspended 2020 share buyback program due to economic uncertainties sparked by the coronavirus pandemic.
Shares of Cartier owner Compagnie Financiere-Richemont /zigman2/quotes/203783259/delayed CH:CFR -1.25% surged 8% on better-than-expected first-half results and after announcing a partnership with Chinese e-commerce group Alibaba /zigman2/quotes/201948298/composite BABA +0.20% and fashion-retail platform Farfetch /zigman2/quotes/203824836/composite FTCH -2.54% .
French insurer Scor /zigman2/quotes/208040387/delayed FR:SCR +1.50% reported a third-quarter net profit fell, but slight gain in gross written premiums. Shares rose 6%.