European stocks choppy and U.S. equity futures fall after chaotic presidential debate

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Europe Markets

Caesars and William Hill reach a deal

People sit and watch a broadcast of the first debate between President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden on September 29, 2020 in West Hollywood, California.


Mario Tama/Getty Images

European stocks traded choppy and U.S. equity futures fell on the last trading day of the month and quarter, with investors rattled by U.S. politics after a messy presidential debate, and rising coronavirus cases.

Bouncing around, the Stoxx Europe 600 index
SXXP,
-0.20%

was last down 0.4%. The index was poised for a gain of just 0.3% in the quarter, but around a 1.4% drop for September, the biggest monthly drop since March, according to Dow Jones Market data. The German DAX
DAX,
-0.51%

and the French CAC 40
PX1,
-0.39%

fell 0.5%, and the FTSE 100
UKX,
-0.05%

slipped 0.1%.

Trimming a deeper earlier loss, Dow futures
YM00,
-0.49%

fell 200 points, with S&P 500
ES00,
-0.40%

and Nasdaq-100 futures
NQ00,
-0.52%

dropping 0.7% and 0.9% each, respectively. Futures had risen into the debate, but then fell as it ended. That follows Tuesday’s weaker finish on Wall Street.

What has been described as an acrimonious and chaotic debate between President Donald Trump and Democratic contender Joe Biden late on Tuesday probably didn’t change the minds of undecided voters, analysts said.

“If anything the betting markets have moved slightly in the direction of Joe Biden and U.S. futures moved lower,” said Ian Williams, economics and strategy analyst at Peel Hunt, in a note to clients.

Futures losses may reflect fears that a Biden win will mean higher corporate taxes, which could be a negative for the stock market. Meanwhile, investors will closely watch last-ditch efforts by U.S. lawmakers to get a coronavirus fiscal stimulus package passed.

Read: Here’s how the stock market tends to perform after the first presidential debate

Elsewhere, data showed China’s economic recovery following its coronavirus outbreak earlier in the year picked up the pace. The official manufacturing purchasing managers index rose to 51.5 in September, beating forecasts and August’s reading of 51.0. The service sector also rebounded with a strong September.

Europe continues to struggle with rising coronavirus cases, in what some are calling a second wave. The U.K. recorded the largest-ever rise in new cases on Tuesday, with a jump in deaths.

William Hill shares
WMH,
+0.07%

were mostly steady, after U.S.-based Caesars Entertainment said it has agreed to a 272 pence per share deal for the U.K. betting company, which values it at £2.9 billion ($3.73 billion).

Shares of oil major Royal Dutch Shell
RDSA,
+0.18%

RDS.A,
-1.68%

were choppy, after the energy company said it would cut up to 9,000 jobs by the end of 2022, as it expects to book charges of between $1 and 1.5 billion for the third quarter.

Shares of French waste-management group Suez
SEV,
+3.45%

climbed over 6%, after Veolia Environnement
VIE,
+0.68%

raised its offer for the majority of Engie SA’s Suez stake to €3.4 billion ($3.99 billion). Veolia shares were little changed.

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