European Stocks Fall After Trump Tests Positive for Coronavirus

European equities fell along with U.S. stock index futures on Friday after President Donald Trump said he had tested positive for the coronavirus.

The Stoxx 600 index was down 0.5% at 8:28 a.m. in London, after losing as much as 1.2% shortly after the open. The selloff was broad-based, led by cyclical shares including miners, energy and banks. The region’s volatility index, the VStoxx, was up 4.4% at 27.7, while the U.S. VIX Index was up 8.1% at 28.9.

Trump announced early Friday that he and First Lady Melania Trump had tested positive for Covid-19, shortly after one of his closest aides, Hope Hicks, had fallen ill with the coronavirus.

“With some key state polls tight and this positive test coming so close to the election, this development will just add to the uncertainty rippling through the markets,” said Susannah Streeter, senior investment and markets analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown. “There is a chance there could be a sympathy vote for Trump but given he’s been forced into quarantine, it will cut down the time he can spend on the stump trying to win over wavering voters.”

Energy shares lost ground again, with crude prices tumbling on Friday. A gauge for the sector is set to post a fifth consecutive weekly loss. Oil stocks have severely underperformed the broader market amid poor demand outlook, with BP Plc and Royal Dutch Shell Plc hitting their lowest level in 25 years this week.

— With assistance by Sam Unsted

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