European stocks climb but euro struggles on new Austria lockdown
European equity markets rose Monday, despite Austria’s return to lockdown, but the euro languished near recent lows as the region raced to curb soaring Covid infections.
London stocks climbed 0.3 percent nearing midday, while Frankfurt won almost 0.1 percent and Paris gained 0.2 percent in early afternoon eurozone trade.
The European single currency dipped but held above Friday’s one-and-a-half-year low of $1.1250.
“European markets have kicked off the week on a surprisingly positive footing, with the fears around a fresh bout of Covid restrictions serving to damage the euro more than stocks,” said IG analyst Joshua Mahony.
Austria closed shops, restaurants and festive markets on Monday in the most dramatic Covid-19 restriction seen in Western Europe for months.
– Europe new Covid ‘epicentre’ –
“Just when we thought that Covid-19 risks were behind us, Europe became the new epicentre of the pandemic,” said analyst Hussein Sayed at trading firm Exinity.
“Austria is the first country to reimpose a full lockdown starting today, with further curbs expected to come into force in other European countries.”
The measures come after a weekend of violent clashes in several European cities — including in Belgium and the Netherlands — where tens of thousands demonstrators took to the streets to protest Covid measures.
Europe’s key stocks indices had already slumped Friday after Austria said it would reintroduce lockdowns — and make vaccination mandatory from February — to fight a worrying jump in new infections.
Other countries including Germany, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Belgium were also bringing in measures.
– ‘Alarming rate’ of infections –
The news added to the downbeat mood on trading floors, with investors expecting central banks to continue winding back ultra-loose monetary policies put in place at the start of the pandemic and which have been key to economic recovery.
“This of course is not just an Austrian story, Covid infections are rising at an alarming rate around Europe with other EU governments also introducing restrictions with the risk that they may also need to follow Austria’s drastic measures,” said National Australia Bank’s Rodrigo Catril.
Asian stock markets traded mixed Monday as investors mulled Europe’s new containment measures alongside growing speculation of interest rate hikes to tame spiking inflation.
Oil extended losses as major consumers including the United States considered releasing some of their reserves to keep a lid on prices, which have been a key reason for elevated inflation this year.
Crude had however tumbled Friday on fears of adverse demand fallout from the fast-moving Covid crisis.
– Key figures around 1150 GMT –
London – FTSE 100: UP 0.3 percent at 7,247.22 points
Frankfurt – DAX: UP 0.1 percent at 16,173.90
Paris – CAC 40: UP 0.2 percent at 7,125.68
EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.1 percent at 4,358.67
Tokyo – Nikkei 225: UP 0.1 percent at 29,774.11 (close)
Hong Kong – Hang Seng Index: DOWN 0.4 percent at 24,951.34 (close)
Shanghai – Composite: UP 0.6 percent at 3,582.08 (close)
New York – Dow: DOWN 0.8 percent at 35,601.98 (close)
Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.1284 from $1.1290 at 2200 GMT
Euro/pound: DOWN at 83.91 pence from 83.92 pence
Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.3444 from $1.3451
Dollar/yen: DOWN at 114.20 yen from 113.99 yen
Brent North Sea crude: DOWN 0.1 percent at $78.79 per barrel
West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 0.1 percent at $75.83 per barrel