European stock markets today: American election, the coronavirus weighs heavily

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LONDON – European stocks got off to a mixed start on Monday as investors brace for Tuesday’s U.S. presidential election and digest the latest coronavirus news.

The FTSEurofirst 300 index hovered below the flat line at the start of trading, German stocks supported by bullish economic data from China while British stocks struggled after Saturday’s lockdown announcement.Market attention is largely focused on US electoral uncertainty and the latest coronavirus developments. U.S. equity futures were flat in overnight trading on Sunday amid growing concerns about the effect of the coronavirus pandemic on the global economy.

The UK government on Saturday announced a nationwide lockdown for England, making it the latest country to return to a nationwide shutdown, which begins Thursday, in an attempt to stem the rapid rise in cases and hospitalizations from the virus.

The outcome of Tuesday’s US presidential election raises widespread concerns that a contested outcome dispute could delay the much-needed fiscal stimulus to the US economy.

A latest NBC News / Wall Street Journal poll found that former Vice President and Democratic candidate Joe Biden held a substantial national lead over President Donald Trump in the final days before the vote.

A majority of voters say they are unhappy with the way the president has handled the coronavirus pandemic and the direction the country is heading.

In day-to-day trading in Asia-Pacific, stocks were mostly up as a private survey showed China’s manufacturing activity rose for the sixth consecutive month in October. The Caixin / Markit Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) for China’s manufacturing sector stood at 53.6 for October, above the 53.0 analysts’ forecast in a Reuters poll.

On the data front, the final October manufacturing PMI data for the euro zone is released.

In terms of individual stock price action, online supermarket Ocado has climbed 8% as lockdowns are reintroduced across the continent. At the bottom of the European blue chip index, British sporting goods chain JD Sports fell more than 7%.

– CNBC’s Yun Li and Yen Nee Lee contributed reporting for this story.

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