(Reuters) – European stocks fell on Thursday as investors feared another round of shutdowns due to soaring coronavirus cases globally, with growth-linked cyclical stocks leading losses across regional markets.
The pan-European STOXX 600 closed 0.8% lower, easing from an eight-month high hit earlier this week.
Miners, travel, oil and gas and banking sectors that have rallied strongly in November on positive COVID-19 vaccine data, shed almost 2%.
Media stocks rose, while utilities and tech firms posted minor losses.
U.S. stocks also slipped from all-time highs as New York City’s public schools called a halt to in-classroom instruction in the latest major restriction to curb the spread of the virus.
“With infection and hospitalisation rates rising, and the risk that current lockdown restrictions either remain in place, or get extended into 2021, the probability that any economic damage will become permanent is only likely to increase,” Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets said in a note.
Investors have been weighing the consequences of tighter restrictions globally on economic growth against hopes of a COVID-19 vaccine supporting a recovery.
European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde called on EU leaders to end a potentially damaging budget impasse and repeated a promise to keep monetary policy super easy.
A Reuters poll showed economists expect the euro zone economy to shrink 2.5% this quarter after expanding a record 12.6% in the previous quarter.
Among individual stocks, ailing German conglomerate Thyssenkrupp fell 3.4% after it said it would need to cut a further 5,000 jobs to ease the impact of the coronavirus crisis on its businesses.
Norwegian Air slumped 15.7% after it filed for bankruptcy protection as it seeks to stave off collapse amid the pandemic.
Germany’s HelloFresh jumped 6.6% after its CEO said the meal-kit delivery firm would expand its capacity to supply U.S. diners by 50% by mid-2021.
Debt-laden Spanish media firm PRISA surged 21.0% after it said it had received an offer for El Pais daily and its other media assets from Spanish businessman Blas Herrero.
(Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva, Kirsten Donovan)