European shares whipsaw as Covid-19 weighs on sentiment

European shares fluctuated on Monday morning as investors digested the rising coronavirus death toll and spiking cases in the U.S, CNBC reported.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 hovered at the flatline by mid-morning having bounced either side throughout the first hour of trading. Oil and gas stocks slid 1 percent to lead losses while autos added 0.8 percent.

Global markets are reacting to the news that the coronavirus has now killed more than 500,000 people around the world, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. The number of confirmed infections has now exceeded 10 million.

The U.S. accounts for more than 20 percent of all reported deaths caused by Covid-19, more than any other country in the world, according to the data, followed by Brazil, the U.K., Italy and France.

However, country-to-country comparisons of the death toll are difficult due to differences in reporting methods.

Shares in Asia Pacific fell Monday on the back of the data, as well as a decline in oil prices, which fell for a second straight session on Monday following data showing an increase in coronavirus cases, which has led to the reimposition of localized lockdowns in some countries that could dent demand for oil.

In corporate news, British oil giant BP on Monday announced that it will sell its petrochemicals business to privately owned U.K. chemicals company Ineos for $5 billion.

On the data front, euro zone economic sentiment improved in June, according to data published Monday by the European Commission. Economic sentiment in the bloc rose to 75.7 from May’s 67.5.

Biggest movers

Wirecard shares rallied more than 125 percent in early trade as the German payments company vowed to continue business activities after filing for insolvency.

This represented only a small real share price increase to 2.89 euros per share ($3.25), following the stock’s recent plunge, on the back of the $2.1 billion discovered to be missing from its balance sheet.

At the bottom of the Stoxx 600, German airline Lufthansa slid 3.5 percent.