European markets closed lower on Friday as investors monitored concerns over a second wave of coronavirus cases, which caused the U.K. to implement new quarantine measures.
The pan-European Stoxx 600 closed down 1.2%, with travel and leisure stocks dropping more than 2.3% on the back of new travel restrictions as all sectors and major bourses slid into negative territory.
On Wall Street, equities showed a more mixed picture, with sentiment dampened by stalled U.S. stimulus talks capping sentiment. The Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 indexes were in positive territory while the Nasdaq slipped into the red.
President Donald Trump on Thursday announced that he is blocking attempts from Congressional Democrats to include U.S. Postal Service funding and election infrastructure in a potential coronavirus relief bill, furthering his efforts to prevent Americans from voting by mail as polls show him lagging behind Democratic nominee Joe Biden.
The U.K. has imposed a new 14-day quarantine period on all arrivals from France from Saturday due to the rising rate of coronavirus cases in the country. The Netherlands, Malta and Monaco were also added to the quarantine list, which already featured Spain and Belgium.
European Union statistics agency Eurostat on Friday confirmed that the euro zone saw a 12.1% contraction in GDP (gross domestic product) in the second quarter, and experienced its worst fall in employment ever recorded. The bloc’s trade surplus surged to 21.2 billion euros ($25 billion) due to a sharp fall in imports.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and new Irish Taoiseach Micheál Martin struck an optimistic tone over the possibility of a post-Brexit free trade agreement following the first meeting on Thursday, though Johnson cautioned that the U.K. would not yield on its rejection of “level playing field” clauses.
The European Commission has entered contract negotiations with U.S. pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson over the purchase of 200 million doses of a potential Covid-19 vaccine to be distributed among its 27 member states.
Travel stocks took the biggest hit following the U.K. quarantine announcement, with Easyjet and Tui shedding around 7% and 8% respectively while British Airways parent IAG fell just under 5%. German reseller Cancom fell 7% after Thursday’s half-year results.
At the top of the European blue-chip index, Swedish telecoms company Sinch climbed over 5% and Qiagen shares added 3% after Thermo Fisher’s takeover of the Dutch diagnostics company collapsed due to an investor revolt.