European markets opened mostly lower on Monday as the spread of the Delta variant had a dampening effect on some of the reopening bullishness, while US markets were closed, meaning trading volumes would likely be thinner.
US markets were closed for the Independence Day holiday, but futures pointed to a 0.1% dip for Tuesday’s open.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson was set to announce later on Monday a further relaxation of coronavirus restrictions, involving voluntary use of face masks in public, despite a spike in new infections. The country reported more than 170,000 cases in the past seven days, a 67% jump from last week.
The final stage of the four-step plan to end lockdown, scheduled to come into effect on July 19, will be “an enormous test case as to whether heavily vaccinated countries can live with the virus,” Deutsche Bank strategist Jim Reid said.
French Health Minister Olivier Véran warned in a tweet on Sunday that based on the UK’s current situation, France too could be hit by a wave of the contagious Delta-variant infections by the end of July.
Covid-sensitive assets struggled on news of the spread, with the STOXX 600 Travel & Leisure index down 0.13%, extending the previous week’s losses.
British supermarket Morrisons gained 11% after US investment firm Apollo said it was considering making a rival offer to buy the chain. Apollo’s bid could trump a £6.3 billion ($8.7 billion) offer, to which the chain has already agreed to, from Softbank-backed Fortress, according to Bloomberg.
Asian markets traded mostly lower after investors digested China’s expanding crackdown on technology platforms that targets more US-listed companies. Regulators ordered the removal of ride-hailing firm Didi Chuxing from app stores, days after its successful New York IPO, on the grounds that it had been collecting and using personal user data.
Oil prices remained largely unchanged ahead of the OPEC+ meeting that is set to resume on Monday after disagreements over production cuts last week. The United Arab Emirates is against extending the deal to increase production until the end of 2022 and is demanding better terms for itself, according to Deutsche Bank analysts.
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