Coronavirus: European stocks fall as doubts grow over vaccine

Edmund Heaphy
Finance and news reporter
A screen displays falling stock prices in Europe during the coronavirus pandemic. (Eric Piermont/AFP via Getty Images)

European stocks fell on Wednesday after experts began to question the reliability of data from potentially promising trials of a coronavirus vaccine.

A report from the highly respected Stat News suggested that Massachusetts-based Moderna (MRNA) had not released enough information about its vaccine candidate to justify the optimism that had buoyed markets in recent days.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index (^STOXX) fell by more than 0.6%. London’s FTSE 100 (^FTSE) declined by 0.5%.

Germany’s DAX (^GDAXI) was down by around 0.6%, while France’s CAC 40 (^FCHI) was 1% in the red.

Shares in Moderna surged after it announced on Monday (18 May) that eight participants who received doses of the vaccine candidate had developed antibodies, suggesting that it triggered some level of immunity.

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But the Tuesday (19 May) report in Stat News said that “critical information” was withheld and that the “early readout” should be interpreted with caution.

“Unwilling to learn from past mistakes, the markets got overly excited about Morderna’s COVID-19 vaccine, only for the Dow Jones’s optimism to be somewhat punctured on Tuesday night,” said Connor Campbell, a financial analyst at trading platform Spreadex.

“The Dow’s decline fed into the European session, contributing to the smattering of losses seen after the bell,” he said.

The lower open in Europe followed a mixed trading session in Asia.

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China’s SSE Composite Index (^SSEC) fell by more than 0.5% on Wednesday and the Hang Seng (^HSI) was down 0.1% in Hong Kong at market close.

Japan’s Nikkei (^N225) closed almost 0.8% in the green, while the KOSPI Composite Index (^KOSPI) in South Korea rose by more than 0.4%. Australia’s ASX 200 (^AXJO) was up by over 0.2%.

Futures were pointing to a higher open for US stocks on Wednesday.

S&P 500 futures (ES=F), Dow Jones Industrial Average futures (YM=F), and Nasdaq futures (NQ=F) were all up by more than 0.4%.

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