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24 Mar 2021 | 08:21

Europe open: Lockdowns, vaccine export spat hits shares

(Sharecast News) - New lockdowns in Europe and a dispute over the Covid-19 supplies between the European Union and AstraZeneca hit stocks at the opening on Wednesday. The benchmark pan-European Stoxx 600 index fell 0.34% by 0840 GMT after investors on Wall Street were unsettled by the possibility of tax rises to fund the large US stimulus package agreed this month.

As Germany, France and Italy extended lockdown measures to fend off the third wave of the coronavirus, the EU was preparing to extend vaccine export curbs to Britain and other areas with much higher vaccination rates.

Investors were also eyeing IHS Markit's March business surveys for the euro zone and the UK.

"The extended lockdown in Germany, and (UK Prime Minister) Boris Johnson's claim he has 'no doubt' that the third wave will hit British shores, has kept the markets, if not panicked, then in a state of quiet concern," said Spreadex analyst Connor Campbell.

In equity news, shares in Italian defence and aerospace group Leonardo fell 7.54% after the company postponed the initial public offering of its U.S. electronics unit DRS , saying adverse market conditions did not allow for an adequate valuation.

Cineworld shares continued to fall on worries that movie lovers may have become accustomed to streaming movies at home. The stock was down 5.85%.

Chipmakers, including ASM International, ASML and BE Semiconductor, were the top gainers, after US firm Intel announced a $20bn plan to expand its advanced chip manufacturing capacity.
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