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Coronavirus: European stocks mixed ahead of meeting of eurozone ministers

Edmund Heaphy
Finance and news reporter
Outgoing Eurogroup president Mario Centeno arrives at a meeting of the European parliament in Brussels. Photo: Francisco Seco/AP

European stocks were mixed on Thursday ahead of a crucial meeting of eurozone finance ministers, with investors hoping that the group will signal support for the European Union’s expansive coronavirus recovery package.

The meeting of the 19-member Eurogroup comes ahead of next week’s EU leaders summit, during which the bloc is hoping to come to agreement on the €750bn (£678bn) package of fiscal stimulus measures.

But there is considerable division among member states about the plan, with several staunchly opposing the plan to raise vast sums of money on bond markets.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index (^STOXX) rose by around 0.2%, while London’s FTSE 100 (^FTSE) declined by 0.3% in the wake of chancellor Rishi Sunak’s summer statement.

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Analysts noted that, since many of the measures had been flagged in advance, the statement did little to boost UK stocks.

Germany’s DAX (^GDAXI) rose by around 0.8%, while France’s CAC 40 (^FCHI) was marginally in the red.

“It was a mixed affair on Thursday morning — the markets struggling a bit for direction on a fairly quiet week for data,” said Connor Campbell, a financial analyst at trading platform Spreadex.

The mixed fortunes for stocks in Europe followed a strong trading session in Asia, where demand from retail traders continued to boost stocks in China.

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Shanghai’s SSE Composite Index (^SSEC) rose by almost 1.4% on Thursday, its eighth straight day of gains. The Hang Seng (^HSI) closed just over 0.1% in the green in Hong Kong.

Japan’s Nikkei (^N225) climbed by 0.4%, while the KOSPI Composite Index (^KOSPI) in South Korea closed 0.42% in the green. Australia’s ASX 200 (^AXJO) rose by around 0.6%.

Futures were pointing to a lower open for US stocks on Thursday.

S&P 500 futures (ES=F) fell by around 0.2%, while Dow Jones Industrial Average futures (YM=F) declined by 0.3%. Nasdaq futures (NQ=F), meanwhile, were flat.