Stocks slide on possible virus restrictions

European stock markets fell Monday on news that France might be headed for a fresh lockdown over the coronavirus pandemic.

In New York, the Dow Jones index was also lower in midday trading, but the main Asian markets ended higher.

The dollar traded mixed, while oil prices edged higher.

"Renewed lockdowns and restrictive measures globally are dragging down the European bourses," commented Edward Moya, a market analyst at Oanda.

"A steady stream of countries mulling travel curbs and delays with vaccines is taking its toll with European stocks," he noted.

"France looks set for a third lockdown, with the spread of the UK strain likely to bring further travel restrictions," added Joshua Mahony, market analyst at IG trading group.

The United States was set to join France, Israel and Sweden in refusing some travellers, with special concern about new strains of the pathogen that originated in Brazil, Britain and South Africa.

Elsewhere, investors kept tabs on the progress of US President Joe Biden's economic rescue package.

US Lawmakers are working on a $1.9 trillion stimulus proposal from the new president, with some suggesting they could pass something before the Senate holds an impeachment trial of Donald Trump.

That is expected during the week beginning February 8.

But the stimulus will likely face headwinds from Republicans who think another massive outlay comes too soon after the $900 billion spending package passed at the end of last year.

"This week will likely see more Republican objections arise and posturing from Democrats," Moya forecast, while adding: "Stimulus will happen, but talks could linger all week long."

The Federal Reserve is set to hold its first meeting under the Biden administration this week, with investors looking for clues about its plans for monetary policy.

In France, shares in the electricity company EDF plunged by more than 15 percent to 10.45 euros meanwhile, owing to a media report that its reorganisation plan faced stiff opposition from EU officials.

Key figures around 1700 GMT

EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 1.4 percent at 3,553.14 points

New York - Dow: DOWN 0.5 percent at 30,829.69

London - FTSE 100: DOWN 0.8 percent at 6,638.85 (close) 

Frankfurt - DAX 30: DOWN 1.7 percent at 13,643.95 (close)

Paris - CAC 40: DOWN 1.6 percent at 5,472.36 (close)

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 0.7 percent at 28,822.29 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng: UP 2.4 percent at 30,159.01 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: UP 0.5 percent at 3,624.24 (close)

Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.2136 from $1.2168 at 2130 GMT on Friday

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 103.77 yen from 103.79 yen 

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.3664 from $1.3683

Euro/pound: DOWN at 88.82 pence from 88.92 pence

West Texas Intermediate: UP 0.1 percent at $52.31 per barrel

Brent North Sea crude: UP 0.2 percent at $55.52 per barrel

Topics: stock markets , coronavirus pandemic , Dow Jones index , Edward Moya
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