Staff member at an NHS mobile vaccination and testing unit at Northumberland Retail Park as cases of the Indian-origin coronavirus variant continue to rise in Shiremoor, North Tyneside, England. Photo: Lee Smith/Reuters
Stocks in Europe had a muted start to the day on Thursday, with London’s FTSE 100 (^FTSE) and the French CAC (^FCHI) opening flat, amid concerns of rising COVID cases in Europe.
In Germany the DAX (^GDAXI) was 0.3% lower after the bell.
It came as the number of reported coronavirus cases in the UK hit 3,180 on Wednesday, the first day above 3,000 cases in more than six weeks.
The British government has advised people to minimise travel in and out of eight local areas where the Indian variant is spreading fastest.
On the bloc, France announced fresh restrictions on UK passengers that will apply from 31 May. It requires that non-French citizens or residents should have an overwhelming reason to travel to the country, in addition to the existing requirement to produce a negative test and self-isolate for a week after arrival.
The move echoes the decisions this week by Germany and Austria to ban non-essential travel from the UK amid concerns about the Indian strain.
Watch: COVID-19: Government backtracks on local lockdowns after travel confusion
Across the pond, S&P 500 futures (ES=F) were down 0.2%, Dow futures (YM=F) also shed 0.2%, and Nasdaq futures (NQ=F) were 0.3% lower as trade began in Europe.
US equities and other risk assets made a modest recovery yesterday, with the S&P 500 (^GSPC) up 0.2% as investor fears over inflation continued to subside and the global picture on the pandemic showed further signs of improvement. The move put the S&P back within 1% of its all-time high from earlier in the month.
Traders are awaiting US GDP data and jobless claims numbers this afternoon.
Overnight, Asian shares were mixed as investors watched for signs of inflation. Some markets reversed early losses and hovered near two-week highs.
Chinese shares, which had started in the red, turned positive in the late afternoon session with the Shanghai Composite (000001.SS) up 0.4%, while the Hang Seng (^HSI) slipped 0.3%.In Japan, the Nikkei (^N225) lost 0.3%.
Australian shares were slightly higher on the day despite the state of Victoria going into a seven-day lockdown as a cluster of new COVID cases continues to grow. Meanwhile New Zealand’s benchmark index ended lower, extending its losses for a second day in a row, after the country’s central bank on Wednesday signalled rate rises from next year.
Read more: HSBC sells chunk of US retail banking operations in push for Asia
“Some of the week’s froth has come out of the markets in Asia today, with equities edging lower, along with energy and precious metals and our good friends, the cryptocurrency space, while the US Dollar edged higher after an impressive rally overnight,” Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst for Asia Pacific at OANDA, said.
“All the financial markets space, the price action looks corrective, rather than a structural turn, as short-term momentum ran out of the “inflation is dead, buy everything” that has swept markets this week.”
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