By Steve Goldstein, MarketWatch
European stocks closed higher in a choppy session that underscored just how fragile confidence is after the coronavirus-fear selling of the last week.
The Stoxx Europe 600 /zigman2/quotes/210599654/delayed XX:SXXP -1.01% closed 0.1% higher to 375.97, with defensive utilities including /zigman2/quotes/203773154/delayed DE:RWE -2.51% and Iberdrola /zigman2/quotes/202060935/delayed ES:IBE -0.75% advancing.
The threat of coronavirus was still present as airlines including International Consolidated Airlines Group /zigman2/quotes/208070069/delayed UK:IAG +0.03% and movie chain Cineworld Group /zigman2/quotes/206525056/delayed UK:CINE +1.23% closed lower.
Even with Monday’s tepid gains, the Stoxx 600 is still down about 9% over the last five sessions.
Hopes for rate cuts across the globe helped prop up sentiment.
After European stock markets had closed on Friday, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said the central bank was willing to act as appropriate to help the U.S. economy. In addition, Bank of Japan Gov. Haruhiko Kuroda said the Japanese central bank would “provide ample liquidity and ensure stability in financial markets through appropriate market operations and asset purchases.”
As measured in the futures markets, there’s now a 63% chance the Bank of England will cut interest rates by a quarter point at its March 26 meeting.
There was over the weekend dreadful data showing the Chinese economy’s deep downturn in February.
The deadly coronavirus kept spreading, claiming its first two fatalities in the United States as cases reached 89,074 worldwide.
Italy announced a €3.6 billion stimulus package as Rome will ask Brussels to break European Union rules limiting budget deficits. Finance ministers from the Group of Seven industrialized nations are due to hold a telephone call discussing their response.