Faltering PMIs add to a lacklustre week for European stocks

The German share price index DAX graph is pictured at the stock exchange in Frankfurt, Germany, August 6, 2020. REUTERS/Staff

August 21, 2020

By Sruthi Shankar

(Reuters) – Downbeat economic data that pointed to a stalling of the euro zone recovery hit regional stock markets on Friday, with the pan-European STOXX 600 index marking weekly losses as coronavirus cases rose across the continent.

The German DAX <.GDAXI> reversed early gains to trade 0.5% lower after Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) surveys showed service sector activity unexpectedly came to a near standstill in August, although factory activity rebounded further.

Paris-listed shares <.FCHI> fell 0.3% after a worse showing from the French survey, while euro zone blue chips <.STOXX50E> were down 0.4%.

The opening gains proved short-lived, with the wider STOXX 600 index <.STOXX> falling 0.2%, but firmer trading on Wall Street on the back of better data helped limit losses into the close.

“Today’s euro zone PMI release confirms that while activity is on the mend, the pace of the recovery is slowing,” Jai Malhi, a global market strategist at J.P. Morgan Asset Management wrote. “It’s no coincidence that the recovery is losing pace as concerns over new (coronavirus) infections have risen.”

The STOXX 600 recorded a 0.9% loss for the week, with growth-linked cyclical sectors such as banks <.SX7P>, oil & gas firms <.SXEP> and automakers <.SXAP> hit hard as several European countries saw a resurgence in coronavirus cases that raised fears of more restrictions on business activity.

London’s exporter-heavy FTSE 100 <.FTSE> slipped only 0.2%, supported by a slump in the pound on a mix of bad news on the latest Brexit negotiations and gains for the U.S. dollar. [GBP/] [.L]

Travel and leisure stocks <.SXTP> were the biggest sectoral gainers, up 3.1%, with France’s Accor and British rival InterContinental Hotels (IHG) surging for a second day on reports of a possible merger.

Irish building and insulation materials firm Kingspan jumped 8.9% after its chief executive said the company saw significant pent-up demand post-lockdown.

Swiss drugmaker Novartis rose 0.5% after it won U.S. health regulator’s approval to repurpose an 11-year-old blood cancer drug against multiple sclerosis.

Dutch-based payment-processing company Adyen fell 3.7% as several top executives each sold 15% of their stakes in the company, cashing in 693 million euros ($822 million) in all.

(Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur and Catherine Evans)

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Parramatta Eels lacklustre performance against Newcastle Knights

Having only lost one match in the opening eight rounds of the 2020 season, the Parramatta Eels have proven themselves to be genuine premiership contenders.

But in the first half their clash against the Newcastle Knights on Sunday, the powerhouse club were plagued by unforced errors and sloppy offensive play.

NRL great Mick Ennis was less than impressed with the Eels’ backline at McDonald Jones Stadium in Newcastle, specifically calling out halves Dylan Brown and Jai Field.

“Their end of sets have been disastrous in the opening 20 minutes,” Ennis said on Fox League.

“Brad Arthur will be filthy; absolutely livid.

“They just cannot execute, cannot build any pressure when they get down there.

“They’re forward are doing a tremendous job, already up towards 500 metres carrying the ball and putting some dents in this Newcastle defence.

“Brown and Field have got to get that right.”

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Parramatta only scored one try in the first half, but would have managed more if not for six avoidable errors and a disappointing 68 per cent completion rate.

Luckily for the Eels, Newcastle were facing similar challenges when attacking the try line.

The Knights had an ideal scoring opportunity in the ninth minute, with a scrum set up less than 20 metres from the opposition try line. But when veteran Mitchell Pearce got his mitts on the footy, he floated a pass into empty space on the left wing, bouncing into touch.

“There was nobody there!” cried Fox League commentator Warren Smith

“A tremendous pass, but only the touch judge would run onto it.”

Despite boasting more than 56 per cent possession in the opening half, the hosts were unable to muster a point in the first 30 minutes. However, the Knights eventually put themselves on the scoreboard when hooker Andrew McCullough wrestled a try in the 34th minute.

Meanwhile, Newcastle playmaker Kalyn Ponga was taken off the field for an HIA test after he was pummelled by Waqa Blake’s late tackle.

The home crowd went berserk when replays were rolled on the big screens, and the Knights were awarded a penalty for the potential high tackle.

The scoreline was 4-4 when the players retired to the locker rooms, both sides desperate to improve after a sloppy first half.

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