European stocks struggled for gains on Friday, as investors reacted to disappointment over Apple earnings, and COVID-19 worries remained front and center, just days away from the U.S. presidential election.
In choppy trading, the Stoxx Europe 600 index
inched up 0.1% after closing with a modest loss on Thursday. The index has dropped 5.7% in four sessions, which is the worst such performance since June. The German DAX
was down 0.1% and the French CAC 40
rose 0.4%. The FTSE 100 index
was down 0.1%.
“Markets will remain vulnerable to more bad news on the COVID-19 front from the U.S. and Europe, while the nuances of the U.S. election will leave equities to follow other asset classes into the hunkering-down mode,” said Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst at Oanda, in a note to clients.
Major U.S. indexes broke a four-session rout on Thursday, after third-quarter preliminary gross domestic product data indicated a rebound of activity following the pandemic-fueled recession. But Friday’s action hinted of a tough session, with Dow futures
down over 100 points, and Nasdaq-100 futures
slid 1.6%, reflecting nervousness over the tech results.
Reporting en masse late on Thursday, Apple, Amazon, Facebook
and Google parent Alphabet
all produced record sales amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, shares of Apple
fell as iPhone sales fell short, notably in China, and the company declined to give a financial forecast amid the pandemic. And shares of e-commerce giant Amazon
also slipped modestly after a projection for fourth-quarter operating profit of $1 billion to $4.5 billion undershot analysts’ average expectation of $5.81 billion.
Clouds continue to hang over investors as coronavirus cases climb on both sides of the Atlantic, and U.S. politicians have been unable to reach a stimulus deal ahead of the presidential election, now just four days away.
Some observers were disappointed that the European Central Bank didn’t bring forward stimulus at its meeting on Thursday, despite fresh concerns over the region’s economies. Those fears have been exacerbated by one-month lockdowns announced this week by the French and German governments.
The central bank did hint that it may announce more stimulus in December. Data showed the eurozone economy grew at a record pace in the third quarter, but has already stalled amid tough new restrictions, leaving Europe well behind the U.S. and Asia in its recovery from the crisis.
Data released on Friday showed rebounding growth in the third quarter for France, but the government downwardly revised its GDP forecast for 2020, trying to account for an impact from new coronavirus-related restrictions.
Among Europe’s stocks on the move, technology companies were under pressure following those U.S. results, with business software group SAP
down 1.6%. The German tech heavyweight kicked off a shaky week for technology stocks on Monday with a warning, and has lost 30% of its value this week as a result.
Elsewhere, shares of chip-equipment maker ASML Holding
Shares of Air France-KLM
tumbled 4% after the airline swung to a heavy net loss in its third quarter, as it cut its capacity views and warned that it would see significantly lower earnings for the last three months of the year. Deutsche Lufthansa
shares fell 2%.
European stocks were getting some support from some stability for oil prices
Shares of oil major Royal Dutch Shell
rose over 1%.