A picture taken on February 13, 2020 shows a view of the church of Our Lady, Frauenkirche (L) and the city hall (R) at the Marienplatz in Munich, southern Germany. (Photo by Christof STACHE / AFP).
European stocks struggled on Friday, as Germany reported weak growth data and investors weighed up another jump in China cases of the deadly COVID-19 virus.
The Stoxx Europe 600 index was flat at 431.33, after a loss of 0.02% on Thursday, but still poised for a 1.6% weekly gain. The FTSE 100 index French CAC 40 index and German DAX 30 index showed little change.
U.S. stock futures were modestly higher.
Eurostat reported euro-area gross domestic product rose 0.1% during the fourth quarter of 2019, according to a flash estimate. That is versus 0.3% in the prior quarter.
Separately, data showed Germany’s economy stalled in the fourth quarter, with flat gross domestic product falling short of expectations for a 0.1% rise, based on a survey from The Wall Street Journal.
The short-term outlook looks difficult for Germany, said Carsten Brzeski, chief economist at ING Germany, in a note to clients. “Also, the impact from the coronavirus on the Chinese economy is likely to delay any rebound in the manufacturing sector as it at least temporarily disrupts supply chains.”
On the heels of a shocking spike of more than 15,000 coronavirus cases in China, as the hard-hit Hubei Province changed its method of counting the number of affected, officials in the country reported another 5,090 new cases on Friday. The death toll increased by 121 to nearly 1,400.
AstraZeneca said on Friday that core operating profit fell in the final quarter of the year, and that its outlook depended on the coronavirus outbreak’s progression, as China is a key market for the company. Shares pared an early drop of more than 4% to gain 0.2%.
Leading decliners in Europe, Royal Bank of Scotland slid nearly 6%. The majority-state-owned bank said it would rename itself as NatWest Group and reduce the size of its investment bank business. The bank also reported a higher profit, but trimmed its medium-term return target.
Climbing more than 6%, shares of Electricite de France led the Stoxx 600 gainers after the French utility posted a profit jump.