(Reuters) – European stocks paused on Friday after gains through the week as another record surge in U.S. coronavirus cases dulled optimism from a brisk recovery in China’s services sector.
The pan-European STOXX 600 index was largely flat after opening marginally higher, with trading volumes thinned by a U.S. market holiday.
Technology stocks .SX8P led the gains, rising 0.7%, while banks .SX7P, insurers .SXIP and oil & gas .SXEP fell after a strong rally in the previous session.
The benchmark index was headed for a 2.8% weekly gain as hopes of a COVID-19 vaccine and a series of strong data pointed to a global economic recovery from the health crisis.
But investors are skeptical of further gains in equities as the United States set a new daily global record for COVID-19 cases on Thursday, driving several U.S. states to delay their reopening plans.
“The fear of another big(ger) drop in equity prices continues to haunt financial markets. The opportunity to engage in European assets also seems a bit limited,” Thomas Flury, head of FX Strategies at UBS Global Wealth Management wrote to clients.
“For this, clearer signs of a recovery in international trade should be visible. The data on this is constructive, but not surprising to the upside.”
A private survey showed that China’s services sector expanded at the fastest pace in over a decade in June as the easing of lockdown measures revived consumer demand, though companies continued to shed jobs.
Paris’s blue-chip CAC 40 .FCHI slipped 0.3% as French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe resigned ahead of a government reshuffle by President Emmanuel Macron designed to win back disillusioned voters ahead of a possible re-election bid.
Among individual movers, Germany’s Delivery Hero (DHER.DE) jumped 5.5% after the takeaway food company said its order growth nearly doubled in the second quarter.
France’s utility firm EDF (EDF.PA) rose 4.8% after it revised upwards its 2020 nuclear output target.
UK retailer Next (NXT.L) fell 2.5% after Goldman Sachs downgraded the stock to “sell”, while Primark-owner AB Foods (ABF.L) slipped 1.3% after the U.S. bank downgraded its stock to “neutral”.
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