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Stocks - Europe Higher; Worst of Virus "Probably Past"

By Peter Nurse - European stock markets pushed higher Friday, amid signs the region was returning more towards normalcy despite an ever-rising number of Covid-19 cases elsewhere.

At 3:55 AM ET (0725 GMT), the DAX in Germany traded 0.6% higher, France's CAC 40 rose 1%, the U.K.'s FTSE index was up 1.1%.

The euro zone is "probably past" the worst of the economic crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic, European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde said on Friday, while urging authorities to prepare for a possible second wave.

"We probably are past the lowest point and I say that with some trepidation because of course there could be a severe second wave," Lagarde told an online event. The U.S., the world’s economic driver, has posted a record number of new coronavirus cases, with state health departments reporting a total of over 37,000 new cases on Thursday. In fact, Texas was forced to pause its re-opening, with Houston’s intensive-care wards reaching capacity.

Britain announced Friday that it is working on a plan to relax its quarantine for international travellers with some countries where there is a lower risk of contracting the novel coronavirus.

This has helped some of the airline stocks that were critical of the original move. EasyJet (LON:EZJ) rose 2.4%, IAG (LON:ICAG), which owns British Airways, rose 2.8%, and Ryanair (LON:RYA) climbed 1.2%.

Air France KLM (PA:AIRF) also jumped 5% after governments of France and Netherlands reached a deal on an aid package for the airline group, with the latter saying it would provide a 3.4 billion euro ($3.81 billion) financing package.

Elsewhere, Marston’s (LON:MARS) slumped 5.8% after the British pub operator said it took a hit of up to GBP40 million in the first half of the year from the coronavirus pandemic.

Aston Martin (LON:AML) stock fell over 11% after the luxury carmaker said it would issue new shares worth up to 20% of its existing equity capital to ride out the coronavirus crisis.

Additionally, Vonovia (DE:VNAn) stock rose 1.4% after announcing it has acquired a 2.6% stake in Vesteda, a Dutch residential investor - the German real-estate company’s first step into the Dutch residential property market.

Oil prices rose Friday, helped by signs of fuel demand recovering globally, with traders tending to overlook the increase in coronavirus infections in many U.S. states and the recent build in inventories which suggest a revival in U.S. crude production.

At 3:10 AM ET, U.S. crude futures traded 0.8% higher at $39.03 a barrel. The international benchmark Brent contract rose 0.9% to $41.42.

Elsewhere, gold futures rose 0.3% to $1,775.10/oz, while EUR/USD traded at 1.1229, up 0.1%.



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