By Barbara Kollmeyer
European equities struggled to get a foothold on any gains Wednesday, as investors weighed up earnings news and concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Stoxx Europe 600 index /zigman2/quotes/210599654/delayed XX:SXXP +0.89% was flat, but potentially headed for the fourth-straight loss after a 6% decline on Tuesday . The German DAX /zigman2/quotes/210597999/delayed DX:DAX +1.34% and the French CAC 40 /zigman2/quotes/210597958/delayed FR:PX1 +0.45% were largely unchanged. The euro EURUSD was steady.
The FTSE 100 /zigman2/quotes/210598409/delayed UK:UKX +0.76% gave up an earlier gain, slipping 0.2%. The index climbed earlier after Brexit worries sent the pound /zigman2/quotes/210561263/realtime/sampled GBPUSD -0.0072% lower. Sterling rebounded in the afternoon, gaining 0.5% to $1.3001 after Bloomberg and other media reports said the U.K. will keep trade talks going past Thursday’s deadline to reach a drafed treaty on Brexit.
Coronavirus concerns and stalled talks in Congress for another fiscal stimulus package have overshadowed earnings news, which continued on Wednesday with upbeat results from Goldman Sachs /zigman2/quotes/209237603/composite GS +1.34% , but disappointment from Bank of America /zigman2/quotes/200894270/composite BAC +0.40% .
In Europe, England’s new three-tier COVID-19 restrictions which will close bars, gyms, casinos and pubs in the worst-affected areas, kicked in on Wednesday. French President Emmanuel Macron is expected to unveil more restrictions on Wednesday, amid rising deaths and hospitalizations in the country.
In European earnings news, shares of ASML Holding /zigman2/quotes/206208657/delayed NL:ASML +2.66% /zigman2/quotes/210293876/composite ASML +2.21% slipped 0.5% after the Dutch maker of semiconductor equipment reported a sharp rise in third-quarter net profit, but cautioned of uncertainties ahead due to the macroeconomic environment.
Just Eat Takeaway /zigman2/quotes/201653805/delayed NL:TKWY +0.11% shares climbed 5% . The food-delivery service’s third-quarter order growth expanded further to 46.1% and its investment program appears to be paying off, said Giles Thorne, equity analyst at Jefferies.
Shares of Atlantia /zigman2/quotes/208093352/delayed IT:ATL +0.25% surged 7% after Italian newspapers reported that Blackstone and Macquaire have partnered with state lender CDP to make an offer for the infrastructure company´s motorway unit holding. noted analyst Stefano Gamberini.
“An agreement with CDP for the sale of ASPI would eliminate the political risk, solve the debt problem in the holding company (5 bn), accelerate the return to an investment grade rating of the group and ensure financial flexibility to Atlantia for asset rotation or support Abertis, whose leverage remains high,” said Gamberini. Like Atlantia, Spanish-based Abertis, owned by the Italian company, manages toll motorways.