European stock markets mixed as UK economy begins to reopen

LaToya Harding
·Contributor
·3 min read
People in England are now able to meet up in groups of six from any number of households from Monday for the first time in months, ending the 'stay at home' messaging. Photo: Kirsty O'Connor/PA Images via Getty Images
People in England are now able to meet up in groups of six from any number of households from Monday for the first time in months, ending the 'stay at home' messaging. Photo: Kirsty O'Connor/PA Images via Getty Images

Stock markets in Europe started the week on a mixed note, with London's benchmark index underperforming against its continental peers despite the UK economy beginning to reopen under Boris Johnson’s roadmap out of lockdown.

The FTSE 100 (^FTSE) spent most of the session in the red, closing 0.06% lower, while the French CAC (^FCHI) climbed 0.45% and the German DAX (^GDAXI) was 0.47% higher.

The FTSE felt some pressure from a firmer pound which was 0.4% up against the dollar (GBPUSD=X) at €1.3844 and 0.51% ahead against the euro (GBPEUR=X) at €1.1754.

People in England are now able to meet in groups of six from any number of households from Monday for the first time in months, ending the “stay at home” messaging.

Watch: Lockdown restrictions eased in England

This is in an outdoor space only, including parks and private gardens, with the UK government requesting that people stay local, and maintain social distancing. Limits on the number of people who can meet outside in England won’t be raised until step three in May.

It comes as hospitalisations and COVID-19 related deaths continue to fall in Britain in the face of a successful vaccination programme. Some 30 million people have now received their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine in the UK, according to the latest government data.

However, the saga around the COVID vaccination programme in the European Union (EU) looks set to continue this week, with the bloc again threatening to block AstraZeneca (AZN.L) from sending vaccines outside of the area until it meets its promised targets.

READ MORE: France accuses UK of 'blackmail' over vaccine deliveries as EU stops short of export ban

The UK has said that it should be receiving extra doses from Moderna (MRNA) in April, which should offset any shortfall elsewhere if the EU follows through on its bluster.

“An easing of restrictions in England failed to act as a catalyst for the FTSE 100 on Monday with the index trading modestly lower,” Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell, said.

“There may be some nervousness in the markets off the back of crisis-hit hedge fund Archegos Capital and its fire sale of Chinese technology and US media stocks after being hit by margin calls.

“With both Credit Suisse (CSGN.SW) and Nomura (8604.T) warning of a hit in the fallout from the saga, investors have been reminded of the interconnectedness of the global financial system and how this creates a risk of contagion when something goes wrong.

READ MORE: Hedge fund blowup sends shockwaves through Wall Street and the City

Across the pond, the S&P 500 (^GSPC) dipped 0.37%, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq (^IXIC) fell 0.84%.The Dow Jones (^DJI) edged 0.18% lower at the time of the European close.

On Friday, US markets finished the week on a high despite the fact that US consumer spending dropped last month. The S&P set a fresh record, and both the Nasdaq and Russell 200 also posted strong gains in the final hour of trading, in a broad-based uplift across the board.

Asian stocks rose overnight after Wall Street hit a new high and investors were encouraged by government stimulus and the rollout of coronavirus vaccines.

Shanghai, Tokyo, and Seoul all advanced. The Shanghai Composite Index (000001.SS) rose 0.46% and in Japan the Nikkei 225 (^N225) gained 0.71%. The Hang Seng (^HSI) in Hong Kong, however, shed 0.2%.

Watch: What are SPACs?