European markets’ hopes for quick coronavirus recovery fade

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European markets opened lower Wednesday as optimism over an imminent recovery from the coronavirus started to fade.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 fell 0.8% in early trade, with oil and gas stocks shedding 1.4% to lead losses as all sectors and major bourses slipped into negative territory.

Global markets continue to seesaw on hopes and fears over the direction that the coronavirus pandemic is taking. There was optimism that the virus could begin to slow its spread, but an end to the outbreak appears to be some way off.

On Tuesday, U.S. President Donald Trump blamed the World Health Organization for getting “every aspect” of the coronavirus pandemic wrong and threatened to withhold funding from the international organization.

Meanwhile, Trump defended his weeks spent publicly downplaying the severity of the coronavirus even after it arrived in the U.S., despite dire warnings from global health officials and his own trade advisor, by characterizing himself as a “cheerleader.”

Stocks in Asia Pacific were mixed Wednesday as countries in the region continued to battle the coronavirus pandemic.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe declared Tuesday a state of emergency to combat coronavirus infections in major population centers. Singapore also passed a set of laws that bans social gatherings of any size in both private and public areas.

Meanwhile, China lifted travel restrictions in Wuhan — where the virus was originally detected — effective from Wednesday, marking the end of a lockdown that began on Jan. 23. 

On the data front, Swiss unemployment for March is due and earnings updates are due from Tesco and ASOS. Rio Tinto holds an annual shareholders meeting Wednesday. 

– CNBC’s Eustance Huang, Dawn Kopecki and Berkeley Lovelace Jr. contributed to this market report.

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