European markets bounce, cheered by gradual slowdown in new coronavirus cases; Stoxx 600 up 3%

European markets rose sharply Monday as the rate of new coronavirus infections appears to be slowing in the region.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 climbed 2.7% by early afternoon, with travel and leisure stocks jumping 7.5% to lead gains as all sectors and major bourses traded in positive territory.

Stocks are being buoyed by data showing the rate of new coronavirus infections and deaths there is slowing.

Italy, which was the epicenter of Europe’s pandemic before Spain overtook it in terms of the number of cases, reported its lowest daily COVID-19 death toll for more than two weeks on Sunday, Reuters noted. 

Germany reported a slowdown in the rate of new cases on Sunday for the third day in a row while in Spain, the rate of new infections and deaths continued to decline; Sunday’s rise in the number of deaths represented a 6% increase in total deaths, about half the rate reported a week ago.

“The data from this week and today confirms the slowing down of infections,” Spain’s Health Minister Salvador Illa told a news conference, Reuters reported. “The data confirms that confinement is working.”

Meanwhile in the U.K., Prime Minister Boris Johnson was admitted to a hospital for tests Sunday, 10 days after contracting the coronavirus. A Downing Street spokesperson said it’s a “precautionary step” since the prime minister continues to have persistent symptoms of the virus. 

Stocks in Asia Pacific rose in Asia’s Monday afternoon trade as a scheduled meeting between the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies, initially set to take place Monday, was delayed. 

Oil prices dropped during early morning trading on Monday, however, after the OPEC+ alliance of oil producers announced it was delaying its meeting (at which it could agree to a production cut).

However, Kirill Dmitriev, CEO of Russia’s sovereign wealth fund RDIF, told CNBC on Monday that Moscow and Riyadh are “very, very close” to a deal on oil production cuts.

In terms of individual stocks, British security firm G4S saw its shares jump 22.9%, rebounding from their worst single-day loss in history on Friday, while gambling chain owner GVC Holdings surged 20.7% after halving the estimated damage to its profits from the coronavirus in 2020.

Rolls-Royce climbed 18% after announcing overall liquidity of £6.7 billion ($8.23 billion).

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