Europe markets: Coronavirus remains in focus

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European markets retreated Monday morning as the coronavirus pandemic remains in focus for investors.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 was down 2.2% in early deals having initially opened in the black. Banking stocks tumbled 4.6% to lead losses as all sectors and major bourses slid into negative territory.

Global markets continue to take stock of the evolving coronavirus pandemic. The virus has already infected more than 720,000 people worldwide and caused at least 34,000 deaths, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

U.S. President Donald Trump on Sunday extended the national social distancing guidelines to April 30, walking back his previous remarks that he wanted the country to reopen for business by Easter.

“Nothing would be worse than declaring victory before the victory has been won,” Trump said at an evening press briefing after suggesting that the coronavirus death rate would likely peak in two weeks.

Meanwhile in Europe, the number of deaths from coronavirus in Italy fell for the second consecutive day on Sunday. A national lockdown looks certain to continue beyond April 3.

In Asia Pacific, stocks were mixed Monday as investors continue to assess the economic impact of the global coronavirus pandemic. In Japan, the Nikkei 225 closed the Asian trading day down 1.57%, while mainland Chinese stocks led losses, with the Shenzhen composite and Shenzhen component both dropping more than 2%. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 led gains among the region’s major markets as it surged 7%.

On the data front, several measures of euro zone economic sentiment for March are released at 9 a.m. London time.

In terms of individual share price action, cinema chain Cineworld dropped 15% in early trade while British aerospace firm Meggitt and luxury carmaker Rolls-Royce both shed more than 11%. 

At the top of the European blue chip index, remote working software provider TeamViewer continued to benefit from continent-wide office closures to add 4.4%.

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