European stocks fell on Wednesday as new outbreaks in Germany and Japan and a “disturbing surge” in the United States raised fears of a surge in coronavirus cases worldwide.
The pan-European STOXX 600 index (^ STOXX) fell about 1.8%. The London FTSE 100 (^ FTSE) decreased by around 2.3%.
Germany’s DAX (^ GDAXI) declined about 2.2%, while France’s CAC 40 (^ FCHI) was 1.9% in the red.
Late Tuesday, officials in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia imposed a second localized shutdown after more than 1,500 workers at a meat-processing plant tested positive for coronavirus.
READ MORE: Conditions in meat plants cause COVID-19 outbreak problems in Europe
The number of daily infections in Tokyo on Tuesday reached its highest level in nearly two months, while Anthony Fauci, the chief infectious disease expert at the White House, warned that the United States was experiencing a “disturbing increase” in cases of coronavirus.
Seven states in the United States, Arizona, Arkansas, California, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas, reported a record number of coronavirus hospitalizations on Tuesday.
“This is not a second wave, but a continuation of the first,” said Connor Campbell, financial analyst at Spreadex.
“It is understandable that investors are quite concerned about this news, especially as it is due to the recent outbreak in Beijing, a new set of cases in Tokyo, a record one-day total for new cases in Mexico and reports on Monday that the Germany’s R rate has crossed crucial level 1 due to thousands of cases in a slaughterhouse, ”he said.
Declines in Europe followed a largely positive session in Asia, where overall stocks peaked at four months.
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The Chinese SSE Composite Index (^ SSEC) was up 0.3% on Wednesday, while the Hang Seng (^ HSI) was down less than 0.1% in Hong Kong at the close of the market.
Japan’s Nikkei (^ N225) also closed less than 0.1% in red, while the KOSPI Composite Index (^ KOSPI) in South Korea rose 1.4%. Australia’s ASX 200 (^ AXJO) increased just over 0.1%.
Futures pointed to a lower open for US stocks on Wednesday.
S&P 500 futures (ES = F) fell more than 1.1%, while Dow Jones Industrial Average futures (YM = F) fell 1.2%. Nasdaq futures (NQ = F), meanwhile, fell about 0.8%.