By Barbara Kollmeyer
German stocks came under pressure on Wednesday, following the strongest day of the year for Europe’s main index and the best day since March for the DAX, driven by easing pandemic concerns.
The Stoxx Europe 600 index /zigman2/quotes/210599654/delayed XX:SXXP -0.26% slipped 0.2% to 479.29, following a roughly 2.5% surge on Tuesday that marked the biggest one-day percentage gain since Nov. 9, 2020. The German DAX /zigman2/quotes/210597999/delayed DX:DAX +0.01% led losses with a 0.6% drop, while the French CAC 40 /zigman2/quotes/210597958/delayed FR:PX1 +0.0058% fell 0.3% and the FTSE 100 /zigman2/quotes/210598409/delayed UK:UKX -0.17% inched up 0.1%. The biggest heavyweight decliner for the DAX for Wednesday was automobile maker Daimler, which fell 1.5%.
The euro /zigman2/quotes/210561242/realtime/sampled EURUSD +0.0920% rose against the dollar /zigman2/quotes/210598269/delayed DXY -0.04% and the pound /zigman2/quotes/210561263/realtime/sampled GBPUSD +0.0244% , which hit a low of $1.3173 after a report in the Financial Times indicated the U.K. will announce fresh COVID restrictions — vaccine passports for big venues and a work-from-home order — to battle surging cases.
Pfizer /zigman2/quotes/202877789/composite PFE +1.40% said Wednesday that three doses — two vaccinations plus a booster — of the COVID vaccine it developed with BioNTech /zigman2/quotes/214419716/composite BNTX +2.08% appeared to keep the omicron variant at bay, though it stressed the results were from preliminary lab studies.
Technology stocks led the losses in Europe, with Infineon Technologies /zigman2/quotes/204703803/delayed DE:IFXA -5.39% dropping over 3% after a downgrade to neutral at JPMorgan, where analysts said semiconductor cycle risks are increasing as inventories normalize. ASML Holding /zigman2/quotes/201180544/delayed NL:ASM +0.62% dropped 1%, and ASM International /zigman2/quotes/201180544/delayed NL:ASM +0.62% slipped 0.9%.
Pharmaceutical names were higher, with Roche /zigman2/quotes/206324342/delayed CH:ROG -1.02% up 1.7% and Novo Nordisk /zigman2/quotes/203484366/composite NVO -0.20% /zigman2/quotes/207193277/delayed DK:NOVO.B -1.92% up over 2%.
The most heavily weighted stock on the Stoxx Europe 600, Nestlé /zigman2/quotes/210131093/delayed NSRGY +2.08% /zigman2/quotes/208115528/delayed CH:NESN +0.27% , climbed 2% after the Swiss food giant agreed to cut its stake in L’Oréal /zigman2/quotes/204720038/delayed FR:OR -0.59% in a sale of $10 billion in shares back to the French cosmetics maker.
Wednesday also marked a changing of the guard for Germany, as center-left leader Olaf Scholz became Germany’s ninth post–World War II chancellor Wednesday , beginning a new era for the EU’s biggest economy, also struggling to get its own COVID outbreak under control.
According to data from FactSet, the German DAX gained 220% throughout Chancellor Angela Merkel’s 16-year chancellorship, though analysts stressed that it was tough to extrapolate much from politics. During her 2005-to-2021 leadership, the German market followed Wall Street into the global financial crisis in 2008 and 2009.
As for her predecessors, the German DAX rose 16% under Gerhard Schröder, who served from 1998 to 2005, and 347% under Helmut Kohl who also served 16 years, according to FactSet data.
The benchmark DAX stock index /zigman2/quotes/210597999/delayed DX:DAX +0.01% surged 30% between October 1989 and July 1990 with Kohl overseeing the post-reunification boom . The euro’s introduction, and the dot-com bubble were also big influential events for German stocks.