By Barbara Kollmeyer
European stocks traded mostly flat on Friday and were set to log weekly gains of less than 1% as investors absorbed fresh U.S. jobs data that slightly disappointed. Airlines and travel companies slipped after the U.K. government removed Portugal from its list of safe travel destinations.
The Stoxx Europe 600 index /zigman2/quotes/210599654/delayed XX:SXXP -0.96% inched up 0.1% to 451.56, virtually unchanged the entire session, with the German DAX /zigman2/quotes/210597999/delayed DX:DAX -0.93% and French CAC 40 /zigman2/quotes/210597958/delayed FR:PX1 -0.83% flat and the FTSE 100 index /zigman2/quotes/210598409/delayed UK:UKX -0.64% down 0.1%.
U.S. stocks opened modestly higher after data showed a weaker-than-expected May nonfarm-payrolls report which eased some worries the Federal Reserve might have to curb its easy-money policies sooner than expected.
Banks were leading the declines in Europe, with shares of HSBC /zigman2/quotes/208272822/composite HSBC -0.99% /zigman2/quotes/203901799/delayed UK:HSBA -0.54% , Banco Santander /zigman2/quotes/205677933/delayed ES:SAN -0.36% /zigman2/quotes/202859081/composite SAN -2.57% and UBS /zigman2/quotes/206172872/composite UBS -1.12% all down 1% or more. Those losses came as the yield on the 10-year Treasury note /zigman2/quotes/211347051/realtime BX:TMUBMUSD10Y +2.30% and German bunds /zigman2/quotes/211347112/realtime BX:TMBMKDE-10Y -4.31% slipped.
A steepening yield curve helps banks borrow cheaper and then lend at higher rates of interest. A flattening yield curve works in the opposite way.
Airline and travel stocks were again under pressure after the U.K. government’s decision to remove Portugal from its quarantine-free travel list, citing concerns about coronavirus variants. The country was opened up for travel less than a month ago.
Speculation that the decision was coming hit travel-related shares on Thursday, and those stocks continue to slide on Friday. Shares of easyJet /zigman2/quotes/202825892/delayed UK:EZJ -1.28% , International Consolidated Airlines /zigman2/quotes/210132433/delayed ES:IAG -1.86% , Ryanair and Wizz Air /zigman2/quotes/210449062/delayed UK:WIZZ -3.06% all fell 1% or more.
Shares of French media conglomerate Vivendi /zigman2/quotes/202179234/delayed FR:VIV -0.42% fell 0.7%. Shares of Pershing Square Tontine Holdings Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/219769662/composite PSTH -0.39% , the special purpose acquisition corporation, or SPAC, created by billionaire investor Bill Ackman, fell 8% in U.S. trading after Vivendi confirmed it was in talks to sell Pershing a 10% stake in Universal Music Group . It would be the largest SPAC transaction on record if it goes ahead.
In London, shares of investment holding company Pershing Square Holdings /zigman2/quotes/205672702/delayed UK:PSH -1.04% fell over 2%, leading the FTSE 100 decliners. Pershing Square Tontine is sponsored by Pershing Square TH Sponsor LLC, which is wholly owned by investment funds — Pershing Square Holdings, Pershing Square LP and Pershing Square International Ltd. — all managed by Ackman’s hedge fund Pershing Square Capital Management.