London (AFP) – Stock markets eased back on Thursday as worries that the world has not seen the last of the coronavirus pandemic caused investors to take some profits after a recent strong run.
US numbers showing that 1.5 million workers filed for unemployment benefits last week added to jitters about the economic outlook.
In Europe, investors were underwhelmed by the Bank of England’s latest monetary policy decisions, which undermined both the pound and London stocks.
Wall Street fell around 200 points at the opening bell, but had pared most of those losses by the late New York morning.
European stocks were also off the day’s worst levels at the closing bell.
Global markets were still “a bit cautious as uncertainty regarding a second wave of COVID-19 continues to simmer, countering recent economic data that has suggested improvement as economies reopen,” said analysts at Charles Schwab.
Earlier, Asian equity indices had closed mixed after a two-day rally.
The Bank of England on Thursday unveiled an extra £100 billion of cash stimulus to prop up Britain’s coronavirus-hit economy, a figure in line with expectations, but analysts said the market had hoped for some forward-looking reassurance.
“BoE watchers could feel a little short-changed,” said Kallum Pickering at Berenberg.
“The market had expected a clear signal that the BoE would ease policy significantly further at a later date or that the bank was seriously contemplating further expanding its toolkit in response to the COVID-19 mega-recession,” he said.
While countries are slowly reopening their economies — with flights resuming, bars, cafes and restaurants serving people and professional football returning — new infections continue to surge in some places and are flaring up again in others.
Eyes are on Beijing, which has imposed new lockdowns, closed schools and banned flights again after the emergence of new clusters, while there have also been massive spikes in Texas and Florida.
Key figures around 1540 GMT
London – FTSE 100: DOWN 0.5 percent at 6,224.07 points (close)
Frankfurt – DAX 30: DOWN 0.8 percent at 12,281.53 (close)
Paris – CAC 40: DOWN 0.8 percent at 4,958.75 (close)
EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 0.5 percent at 3,249.90
New York – Dow: DOWN 0.3 percent at 26,053.94
Tokyo – Nikkei 225: DOWN 0.5 percent at 22,355.46 (close)
Hong Kong – Hang Seng: DOWN 0.1 percent at 24,464.94 (close)
Shanghai – Composite: UP 0.1 percent at 2,939.32 (close)
West Texas Intermediate: UP 1.9 percent at $38.68 per barrel
Brent North Sea crude: UP 1.7 percent at $41.38 per barrel
Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.1220 from $1.1242 at 2050 GMT
Dollar/yen: DOWN at 106.73 yen from 106.97
Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.2424 from $1.2551
Euro/pound: UP at 90.29 from 89.54 pence