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Europe open: Shares edge ahead as investors eye Omicron impact

European shares edged ahead at the open on Thursday as investors continued to monitor the efficacy of vaccines against the Omicron coronavirus variant.

The pan-European STOXX 600 rose 0.27% in early deals after slipping on Wednesday.

“Having recovered most of the losses seen in the post-Thanksgiving sell-off, investors (are) now caught between hope that vaccines will be able to afford enough protection against the new variant, against concerns that even a significant acceleration in infection rates might overwhelm health systems,” said CMC Markets analyst Michael Hewson.

“The news that a third dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine would afford decent protection against Omicron did initially prompt a sharp move higher, however the move didn’t stick, largely down to ongoing uncertainty about how the spread of the virus will affect economic growth right now.”

In equity news, shares in Deutsche Bank were down 2.3% after a Wall Street Journal report that the US Justice Department stated the bank failed to tell prosecutors about an internal complaint in its asset-management arm’s sustainable investing business.

Finnish oil company Neste dropped 4.5% after the resignation of its chief executive officer.

Shares in French fashion group SMCP fell after an ownership battle heated up as major shareholders claimed a 16% stake in the firm had been illegally transferred to an offshore account.

L’Oreal gained 1.9% after agreeing to acquire California-based Skincare brand Youth To The People.

Aircraft engine maker Rolls-Royce fell 3% after the company said defence trading was in line with expectations but civil aerospace engine sales and aftermarket activity were at the low end of guidance.

Shares in UK shoe brand Dr Martens were lower as it posted higher profits but warned of supply delays in the US.

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