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European stock markets slide at end of volatile week

London ended the day with a small gain, however, and in midday New York trading, the Dow Jones index had also moved back into positive territory after a weak start.

Picture: Pexels

LONDON - European stock markets mostly ended the week lower as investors were disappointed by the failure of US lawmakers to agree on a new stimulus deal, and were spooked by surging virus infections.

London ended the day with a small gain, however, and in midday New York trading, the Dow Jones index had also moved back into positive territory after a weak start.

The dollar climbed against its main rivals, while oil prices dropped.

"The same old issues are holding these markets back, considerable economic and political uncertainty - particularly in the US - worrying COVID trends in Europe and a lack of new fiscal and monetary support measures in Washington," said Oanda analyst Craig Erlam.

"Sentiment is fragile, and it's been a turbulent week," said Neil Wilson, chief market analyst at Markets.com.

The need for a new stimulus deal was highlighted by data that showed US jobless claims rising rather than falling last week as a recovery in the world's top economy stumbles ahead of a fraught presidential election.

US durable goods orders posted tepid growth of 0.4% in August, meanwhile, well below the revised level in July of 11.7%.

Aneta Markowska at Jefferies LLC said it was "a close call" on whether a new stimulus would be agreed, adding: "While still possible, there is a high risk that it does not happen this year.

"Without it, we would expect the economy to hit a major speed bump in the fourth quarter."

A surge in coronavirus infections in Europe has resulted in governments imposing partial lockdowns and social restrictions.

Two British supermarket chains are also now rationing certain products to avoid panic-buying seen earlier this year.

"At this point in the recovery, a return to the COVID-19 abyss due to stricter lockdown measures is quite frankly something the global economy cannot afford," said Stephen Innes at AxiCorp.

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