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Coronavirus: European stocks fall as mounting job losses alarm investors

Edmund Heaphy
Finance and news reporter
Companies across Europe have announced a series of job losses this week. Photo: Fabian Sommer/Picture Alliance via Getty Images

Stocks in Europe fell on Friday as mounting job losses across the continent further raised the prospect of a sluggish recovery from the coronavirus crisis.

UK retailers John Lewis and Boots announced thousands of job cuts on Thursday, adding to a long list of airlines and industry titans that have shed employees in recent weeks.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index (^STOXX) fell by around 0.3%, while London’s FTSE 100 (^FTSE) declined by 0.4%.

Germany’s DAX (^GDAXI) fell by more than 0.2%, while France’s CAC 40 (^FCHI) was almost 0.5% in the red.

“Markets here in Europe have opened lower this morning, and look set to finish the week very much on the back foot, as it becomes increasingly apparent that any economic recovery is unlikely to be V-shaped in nature, with a wide range of companies starting to announce thousands of job losses this week,” said Michael Hewson, the chief market analyst at CMC Markets UK.

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“This month alone we’ve seen John Lewis, Boots, Burger King, Rolls Royce, Airbus, Upper Crust, and Harrods, to name but a few, announce thousands of job losses, in addition to the cuts announced last month from the major airlines, energy and car companies,” he said.

Hewson noted that the new announcements had pushed the total number of jobs at risk in Europe to well over 100,000.

Stocks in Asia closed out the week in the red after authorities in Hong Kong suspended schools amid a spike in locally transmitted coronavirus infections.

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Shanghai’s SSE Composite Index (^SSEC) fell by almost 2% on Friday, snapping an eight-day winning streak for Chinese stocks. The Hang Seng (^HSI) closed just almost 2.4% in the red in Hong Kong.

Japan’s Nikkei (^N225) fell by 1%, while the KOSPI Composite Index (^KOSPI) in South Korea closed 0.8% in the red. Australia’s ASX 200 (^AXJO) fell by around 0.6%.

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

S&P 500 futures (ES=F) fell by around 0.7%, while Dow Jones Industrial Average futures (YM=F) declined by 0.8%. Nasdaq futures (NQ=F), meanwhile, were down by more than 0.5%.