June 22, 2020 / 7:29 AM / 12 days ago

European shares hit by renewed virus fears

(Reuters) - European shares closed at a near one-week low on Monday as signs of a resurgence in coronavirus cases in Germany and elsewhere unnerved investors who were hoping for a swift economic recovery from the crisis.

FILE PHOTO: The German share price index DAX graph is pictured at the stock exchange in Frankfurt, Germany, June 15, 2020. REUTERS/Staff

After switching between gains and losses earlier in the session, the pan-European STOXX 600 index ended 0.8% lower, led by losses in the food & beverage .SX3P, telecom .SXKP and oil & gas .SXEP sectors.

Scandal-hit German payments company Wirecard (WDIG.DE) shed another 44% as it said a quarter of its assets totalling 1.9 billion euros ($2.13 billion) that auditor EY had been unable to account for probably did not exist.

Its stock has shed more than 70% of its value over the past week.

The World Health Organization reported a record increase in global coronavirus cases on Sunday, while Germany’s COVID-19 reproduction rate jumped to 2.88, a rate showing infections are rising above the level needed to contain the disease over the longer term.

“There remains a degree of concern that a rise in infection rates ... could well derail the prospects for a recovery as economies continue to try and re-open,” said Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets.

After a stunning recovery from March lows, the STOXX 600 has struggled to make headway in June as investors weigh the possibility of a swift return to economic growth against rising virus cases and the chances of renewed restrictions.

All eyes will turn to Markit’s flash PMI numbers for Europe, slated to be released on Tuesday. The data is expected to show further improvement in business activity in June. [nS8N2AZ056]

Lufthansa (LHAG.DE) dropped 3.2% as the German government held last-ditch talks with the airline group’s biggest shareholder, who is threatening to block a 9 billion euro ($10 billion) bailout unless its terms are adjusted. [nL8N2DZ20K]

Telecom stocks .SXKP were hit as Deutsche Telekom (DTEGn.DE) dropped 4.3% in ex-dividend trading.

However, automakers .SXAP, retailers .SXRP and miners .SXPP gained between 0.2% and 0.7%, limiting losses.

Fiat Chrysler (FCHA.MI) rose 1.4% after news that the Italian government was close to unveiling the approval of guarantees for a 6.3 billion euro ($7 billion) financing.

French group Mediawan (MDW.PA) shot up 41.4% as it announced the acquisition of Lagardere Studios (LAGA.PA) valued at around 100 million euros ($112 million) as part of a broader expansion laid out by its founders.

Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D'Silva and Peter Graff

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