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Coronavirus: European stocks mixed as investors weigh economic data

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·Finance and news reporter
·2-min read
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The sun rises over London, looking east with tall building at centre The Shard, and bridges from nearest, Battersea Bridge, Albert Bridge and Chelsea Bridge across the River Thames, shrouded in mist as warmer weather returns to the south of England, Sunday Aug. 13, 2017.  Recent periods of rain and cold weather seems to have moved from the region. (Victoria Jones/PA via AP)
Stocks in London were in the red despite better-than-expected UK retail sales data. Photo: Victoria Jones/PA via AP

European stocks were mixed on Friday morning as investors assessed new economic data from the UK, France, and Germany.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index (^STOXX) rose by around 0.4%, while London’s FTSE 100 (^FTSE) was marginally in the red despite better-than-expected UK retail sales data.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said on Friday that the volume of retail sales rose by 2% in July. Analysts had expected a month-on-month increase of just 0.2%.

READ MORE: UK retail sees stronger-than-expected rebound in July

But the positivity on the continent was tempered by separate ONS data that showed UK public debt at the end of July was bigger than the size of the entire UK economy for the first time in more than half a century.

And while purchasing managers’ index data from the UK indicated a faster-than-expected recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, similar data from France and Germany suggested that the rebound in the eurozone is slowing.

Germany’s DAX (^GDAXI) rose by 0.4%, while France’s CAC 40 (^FCHI) was 0.3% in the green.

“If there was hope the FTSE 100 could pick itself back up after Thursday’s big stumble then Friday has only brought disappointment as the index slipped back modestly to trade below the 6,000 mark for the first time since late July,” said Russ Mould, the investment director at AJ Bell.

“It feels like the market is gradually coming to the realisation that the world is going to have to live with Covid-19 for longer as countries which have emerged from lockdown experience localised flare-ups and a general increase in infections,” he said.

READ MORE: UK public debt hits record £2tn as crisis spending soars

The declines in Europe followed a strong trading session in Asia.

Shanghai’s SSE Composite Index (^SSEC) rose by 0.5% on Friday, while the Hang Seng (^HSI) closed more than 1.3% in the green in Hong Kong.

Japan’s Nikkei (^N225) rose by almost 0.2%, while the KOSPI Composite Index (^KOSPI) in South Korea climbed by more than 1.3%. Australia’s ASX 200 (^AXJO) fell by around 0.1%.

Futures were pointing to a flat open for stocks in the US.

The broader US market has drifted sideways this week after the S&P 500 hit a record high on Tuesday. Investors have piled back into technology and “stay at home” stocks, amid signs that the US economic recovery may drag on.

Futures on the S&P 500 (ES=F) rose by less than 0.1%, as did Dow Jones Industrial Average futures (YM=F). Nasdaq futures (NQ=F) were also only marginally in the green.

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