LONDON – European markets closed higher on Wednesday as investors hoped a Brexit trade deal could be reached amid concerns over the approval of a long-delayed U.S. coronavirus stimulus package.
The pan-European Stoxx 600 index tentatively closed 1.1% higher, with travel and recreation values climbing 3.67% to lead the gains. Healthcare stocks resisted the trend of a slippage of around 0.4%.
EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said on Tuesday the bloc was making a “final push” to strike a Brexit trade deal with Britain, but disagreements over fishing rights remain. There have been positive reports of the talks, with ITV’s Robert Peston saying a deal could be reached on Wednesday.
In the United States, President Donald Trump suggested Tuesday that he could not sign the $ 900 billion Covid relief bill passed by Congress earlier this week. Trump called the measure an inappropriate “disgrace” and urged lawmakers to make a number of changes, including larger out-of-pocket payments to individuals and families.
On Wall Street, major US indices were moderately higher in the early stages of trading on Wednesday. The Dow Jones gained around 130 points and the S&P 500 added 0.3%. The Nasdaq Composite lagged behind with a gain of 0.2%.
Back in Europe, France reopened its border with England on Wednesday, forcing passengers arriving at the border to have a negative coronavirus test result. It comes after France imposed a ban on people and goods from the UK amid concerns over the apparently rapidly spreading Covid strain first identified in south-eastern England.
Concerns about the economic impact of Britain’s tough new lockdown measures to curb the spread of the novel strain of coronavirus, as well as the current Brexit uncertainty, have weighed on investor sentiment recently.
Travel and leisure stocks were boosted by news that France lifted travel restrictions on Wednesday. Industry leaders included German airline Lufthansa, up 4.3%, and aircraft manufacturer Airbus, up 4.6%.
As for individual stocks, financial institution Lloyds rose 7% to the top of the Stoxx 600.
In the European benchmark, German medical packaging maker Gerresheimer fell 2.8% while meal kit supplier HelloFresh fell more than 5%.