stock markets

European stocks fall on GDP data but tech earnings lift Wall Street

Agence France-Presse, Agence France-Presse
European stocks fall on GDP data but tech earnings lift Wall Street

The chart of Germany's share index DAX reflects in a glass screen at the stock exchange in Frankfurt am Main, western Germany, on January 22, 2020. (Photo by Daniel ROLAND / AFP)

'It was a grim day at the office for the global the extent of the COVID-19 damage was laid bare,' says PVM analyst Stephen Brennock

European stocks fell Friday, July 31, following dismal economic data that chronicled the hit from coronavirus shutdowns, while Wall Street indices gained following blowout earnings from tech giants.

A day after the United States reported an historically bad plunge in 2nd quarter growth, European authorities released the tally for the bloc and for individual countries. 

“It was a grim day at the office for the global economy…as the extent of the COVID-19 damage was laid bare,” said PVM analyst Stephen Brennock.

France‘s economy contracted by a record 13.8% in the 2nd quarter, Spain slumped 18.5%, Portugal contracted 14.1%, and Italy shrank 12.4%.

Europe as a whole was hammered by its sharpest recorded contraction in the 2nd quarter, with GDP down 12.1% in the eurozone and 11.9% across the full European Union.

The official Eurostat agency said that, with much of the economy paralyzed by coronavirus lockdowns, the fall was “by far” the largest since it began recording the figure in 1995.

“It is a shocking drop, but completely understandable as the economy was shut for a considerable period during the quarter,” said Bert Colijn, senior economist at ING Bank.

European bourses retreated, along with Japan’s Nikkei, which was under pressure because of increased coronavirus cases in Japan and a strengthening yen.

But Wall Street stocks finished a choppy session higher after tech giants Amazon, Alphabet, Apple, and Facebook reported strong earnings, validating surging valuations built on expectations the sector would be a big winner amid the pandemic upheaval.

Apple surged 10.5% and Facebook won 8.2%, both all-time highs. Amazon also climbed, while Google parent Alphabet ended lower.

Broad investor sentiment has been weighed down by worries over the state of negotiations over a follow-up to the CARES Act stimulus measure passed by Congress in March. 

Supplemental unemployment benefits paid for by the measure that have been credited with boosting consumption amid soaring joblessness are set to expire on Friday.

“We were spoiled in the first round of fiscal policy stimulus, which happened in a bipartisan fashion and fast,” said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at National Securities.

“Now that we’re coming back for an additional round, Washington politics as usual is taking hold,” Hogan said. “Both sides are arguing over things that they want, included in the next round. Neither side wants to give much.”

Key figures around 8:30 pm GMT
  • New York – Dow: UP 0.4% at 26,428.32 (close)
  • New York – S&P 500: UP 0.8% at 3,271.12 (close)
  • New York – Nasdaq: UP 1.5% at 10,745.27 (close)
  • London – FTSE 100: DOWN 1.5% at 5,897.76 (close)
  • Frankfurt – DAX 30: DOWN 0.5% at 12,313.36 (close)
  • Paris – CAC 40: DOWN 1.4% at 4,783.69 (close)
  • EURO STOXX 50: UP 1.1% at 3,174.32 (close)
  • Tokyo – Nikkei 225: DOWN 2.8% at 21,710.00 (close)
  • Hong Kong – Hang Seng: DOWN 0.5% at 24,595.35 (close)
  • Shanghai – Composite: UP 0.7% at 3,310.01 (close)
  • Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.1775 from $1.1847 at 9 pm GMT 
  • Dollar/yen: UP at 105.88 yen from 104.73 yen 
  • Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.3072 from $1.3096 
  • Euro/pound: DOWN at 90.07 pence from 90.46 
  • West Texas Intermediate: UP 0.9% at $40.27 per barrel 
  • Brent North Sea crude: UP 0.8% at $43.80 per barrel