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Coronavirus: European stocks climb as countries continue to loosen lockdowns

Edmund Heaphy
Finance and news reporter
People stroll at Trocadero square near the Eiffel Tower in Paris, as France gradually lifts its coronavirus lockdown. (Michel Euler/AP Photo)

European stocks rose on Wednesday as the continued loosening of coronavirus-related lockdown measures prompted renewed optimism among investors.

Authorities in some of Europe’s largest economies — Germany, Spain, France, and Italy — chose to ease restrictions, with markets hopeful that the moves will result in a rebound in consumer spending.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index (^STOXX) rose by around 0.3%. London’s FTSE 100 (^FTSE) climbed by 1% as retailers began announcing that they would reopen many of their stores from the middle of June.

Germany’s DAX (^GDAXI) was up by around 0.5%, while France’s CAC 40 (^FCHI) was 0.3% in the green.

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China’s SSE Composite Index (^SSEC) fell by more than 0.3% on Wednesday and the Hang Seng (^HSI) was down 0.7% in Hong Kong at market close.

“The increasing prospect that a slowing infection rate and falling death count will see economies start to slowly reopen next month has seen equity markets across the globe get off to a flying start this week, building on the gains we saw last week,” said Michael Hewson, the chief markets analyst at CMC Markets UK.

“After weeks of lockdown markets appear to be betting that consumers may well go off on a summer spending splurge, as pent up demand gets unlocked, as we head into the summer months,” he said.

“The prospect of non-essential retailers opening in mid-June also gave that sector a boost as preparations start to be made for UK retail, as well as travel and leisure look at a phased return to some semblance of normal.”

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Japan’s Nikkei (^N225) closed 0.7% in the green, while the KOSPI Composite Index (^KOSPI) in South Korea was up marginally. Australia’s ASX 200 (^AXJO) was down by less than 0.1%.

Futures were pointing to a higher open for US stocks on Wednesday.

S&P 500 futures (ES=F) and Dow Jones Industrial Average futures (YM=F) both rose by more than 0.5%, while Nasdaq futures (NQ=F) were up by more than 0.6%.