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European stocks struggle as virus worries weigh on fragile recovery

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Sept 18 (Reuters) - European stocks struggled for momentum in early deals on Friday, with a resurgence in coronavirus cases across the continent raising concerns about its impact on a nascent economic recovery.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index slipped 0.1% by 0708 GMT, with travel & leisure stocks leading the losses with a 1% decline.

Market sentiment remained shaky as France registered a record 10,593 new confirmed coronavirus on Thursday, the highest single-day count since the pandemic began, while the United Kingdom also saw a surge in cases.

A spree of dealmaking drove activity in individual stocks. Spain’s state-owned Bankia slipped 2% after Caixabank valued it at 4.3 billion euros ($5.10 billion) as part of a deal that will create Spain’s biggest domestic bank.

Euronext jumped 3.4% after London Stock Exchange said it had entered into exclusive talks to sell Borsa Italian to the French exchange operator.

Germany’s Covestro gained 5.8% after Bloomberg reported private equity firm Apollo Global Management was exploring a takeover of the plastics maker. (Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)

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