Coronavirus, earnings remain in focus

Coronavirus, earnings remain in focus

European markets were mixed Friday morning as investors monitored China’s coronavirus epidemic and a slew of corporate earnings.

The pan-European Euro Stoxx 600 index was slightly lower with major bourses and sectors pointing in different directions.

China’s National Health Commission on Friday reported an additional 121 deaths and 5,090 new cases of the coronavirus across the mainland for Feb. 13.

China‘s health commission said Friday it removed 108 deaths from the total figure due to a double-count in Hubei province, the epicenter of the global coronavirus outbreak. The pneumonia-causing virus has killed a total of 1,380 people in mainland China as of the end of Thursday, the commission said in its Chinese-language daily online report.

Globally, market participants are monitoring the outbreak and updates on how badly it could dent growth in the world’s second-largest economy.

Back in Europe, Rishi Sunak was announced as Britain’s new finance minister on Thursday, taking over from Sajid Javid who resigned amid a reshaping of the government orchestrated by Prime Minister Boris Johnson. The FTSE 100 was down 0.35% in early deals. 

A flash estimate of the euro zone’s full-year gross domestic product for 2019 is set to be published later on Friday.  A figure for Germany earlier in the session showed its economy stagnated during the fourth quarter of last year.

Meanwhile, earnings were a major focus for European investors. Renault shares slipped 4% after reporting a surprise 2019 loss.

AstraZeneca shares fell 5% after it said its 2020 sales growth would take a hit from the coronavirus. And RBS shares sank 4.8% after it scaled back its returns target and slashed its investment back.

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