By Barbara Kollmeyer
European equities fell on Friday, after President Donald Trump announced that he and the first lady Melania Trump have tested positive for coronavirus.
“Tonight, @FLOTUS and I tested positive for COVID-19. We will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately,” President Trump said on Twitter . Dr. Sean Conley, the physician to the president, said the couple “are both well at this time.”
The Stoxx Europe 600 /zigman2/quotes/210599654/delayed XX:SXXP +1.19% fell 0.6%, the German DAX /zigman2/quotes/210597999/delayed DX:DAX +1.43% fell 1%, the French CAC 40 /zigman2/quotes/210597958/delayed FR:PX1 +1.54% dropped 0.8% and the FTSE 100 UK:UKX /zigman2/quotes/210598409/delayed UK:UKX +1.15% was off 0.9%.
Wall Street shares /zigman2/quotes/210598065/realtime DJIA +1.06% /zigman2/quotes/210599714/realtime SPX +1.49% /zigman2/quotes/210598365/realtime COMP +2.32% were trading lower, as news of Trump’s coronavirus status and weaker-than-expected jobs growth weighed on sentiment. /zigman2/quotes/210598365/realtime COMP +2.32%
Trump’s news of a positive coronavirus test came hours after news that close senior aide Hope Hicks, who had been traveling with him this week, had contracted the virus. Trump’s age, 74, puts him in a higher risk category for complications . The death toll in the U.S. stands at over 200,000.
The news also comes only about a month before the U.S. election, and after a contentious debate between Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden earlier this week.
“This is potentially a strong market negative. The key issue to my mind is has COVID-19 spread to the upper echelons of the U.S. government including the Senate leadership? It has the potential to bring to a halt any ongoing talks over fiscal stimulus for example,” said Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst, Asia Pacific Oanda.
House Democrats approved a $2.2 trillion economic stimulus plan, as talks drag on between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on an coronavirus aid deal.
The U.S. gained a fewer-than-expected 661,000 jobs in September, the smallest rise since a recovery started in May.
Data in Europe showed eurozone inflation falling for a second straight month. In European politics, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen are due to speak on Saturday , in a last-ditch attempt to reach a trade and security deal. The euro /zigman2/quotes/210561242/realtime/sampled EURUSD +0.5463% fell 0.4% against the dollar and the pound /zigman2/quotes/210561263/realtime/sampled GBPUSD +0.3203% was rising 0.2% against the greenback.
Elsewhere, oil prices were also dropping sharply, with November crude down 3% to $37.57 a barrel, while gold edged lower.
Oil’s losses weighed on shares of European oil companies, with BP /zigman2/quotes/207305210/composite BP +2.94% down 3% and Royal Dutch Shell /zigman2/quotes/206428183/delayed UK:RDSA +2.65% losing 2%. Mining stocks were also contributing to the weaker tone for Europe, with Anglo American /zigman2/quotes/201381512/delayed UK:AAL +0.49% down 1.8%.
Shares of Centamin /zigman2/quotes/205992945/delayed CA:CEE +1.52% slid 21%, leading decliners on the Stoxx Europe 600, after the gold mining company cut its production guidance following a suspension of operations at its Sukari mine in Egypt.
Shares of Actividades de Construccion y Servicios /zigman2/quotes/201788030/delayed ES:ACS -1.22% surged 22%, after French construction group Vinci /zigman2/quotes/200895814/delayed FR:DG +2.11% made a non-binding offer for the Spanish rival’s industrial division that valued it at €5.2 billion ($6.11 billion). Vinci shares rose 3%.