European stock markets traded slightly lower Thursday, as concerns of a resurgence of Covid-19 infections outweighed optimism of improving economic activity, although trading was muted ahead of some important central bank events and the release of U.S. jobless claims later.
At 4:10 AM ET (0810 GMT), the DAX in Germany traded 0.1% lower, France’s CAC 40 fell 0.4%, the U.K.’s FTSE index was down 0.3%.
China reported 21 new cases in Beijing on Wednesday, ,a drop from Tuesday’s level, bringing the total number of cases stemming from the weekend outbreak to over 150.
At the same time a number of U.S. states, including Texas, Florida and Arizona, have reported a jump in infections, stoking fears that lawmakers may move to restrict economic reopenings.
Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell cautioned earlier this week that output and employment in America would remain well short of their pre-pandemic levels for a long time, particularly if the outbreak isn’t contained.
Attention will now switch to the Bank of England, and the central bank is expected to increase its quantitative easing program by at least another 100 billion pounds ($125 billion) at its meeting late Thursday.
The BoE is set to exhaust its current program within the next couple of months at the current rate of buying, and an increase would help avoid premature discussion about ending the policy or of tapering.
The market will also get the results of the European Central Bank’s TLTRO liquidity operation later Thursday, with this seen as an important measure in the region’s crisis response to the pandemic.
In corporate news, Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy stock dropped 3.8% after the wind turbine maker’s CEO resigned with the company saying it would post an adjusted operating loss in the third quarter.