Pressure is on US lawmakers to hammer out a new stimulus package to provide much-needed support for the economy as the recovery shows signs of slowing

London (AFP) - Asian and European markets traded mixed Friday with investors anxious over the reimposition of coronavirus restrictions, the stuttering global economic recovery, and US lawmakers’ failure to agree on new stimulus.

In Europe, London and Paris stocks slid but Frankfurt clung onto positive territory, after a lacklustre performance in Asia.

The dollar fell against its main rivals.

World oil prices rose after Saudi Arabia pressed cartel OPEC and its allies to comply fully with production cuts to help stem this year’s virus-driven losses.

Investors are on tenterhooks because the Covid-19 pandemic shows no sign of easing, as fresh spikes around the world see the reimposition of some containment measures including lockdowns.

Britain’s government on Friday warned that it could re-impose a national lockdown across England to combat rising Covid-19 infections, noting that hospitalisation rates are doubling every eight days.

It follows tighter regulations on socialising in England’s northeast, affecting some two million people.

“The threat of further a second round of Covid-19 restrictions … has dented confidence, with the travel sector in particular feeling the heat as we head into the weekend,” said Joshua Mahony, senior market analyst at online trading firm IG.

- Fears of second lockdown -

Traders are now growing increasingly worried about how long it will take to get the world economy back on track, amid reports England could impose a two-week blanket lockdown in October.

In London, virus concerns overshadowed upbeat official data showing that British retail sales continued their recovery in August.

“The FTSE is lagging behind … as fears of a second lockdown overshadow upbeat retail sales,” added City Index analyst Fiona Cincotta.

Trillions of dollars in government and central bank cash have provided much-needed support to economies – particularly equity markets – and none more so than in the United States.

The Bank of England had indicated Thursday that it was preparing the ground for a possible policy of negative interest rates to kickstart the battered UK economy.

And with the first massive US rescue package having run its course and Federal Reserve monetary policies such as record-low interest rates having limited effect, pressure is growing on Congress to come up with more help, with the head of the central bank leading the calls.

But there is little hope Republicans and Democrats are anywhere close to reaching a compromise after weeks of bickering.

With nearly 30 million Americans receiving government help, observers said there was growing concern about the impact on the crucial consumer sector that drives the world’s top economy.

While the Fed essentially said Wednesday that interest rates would remain low for at least three years, analysts said that the pledge had disappointed those hoping for more stimulus.

- Euronext eyes Milan bourse -

On the corporate front, the London Stock Exchange Group on Friday said it had entered “exclusive” talks to sell Milan’s Borsa Italiana to pan-European stock market operator Euronext.

Euronext, operator of the exchanges of Amsterdam, Brussels, Dublin, Lisbon, Oslo and Paris, now has the edge over rival offers from Swiss exchange operator SIX Group and German giant Deutsche Boerse.

The LSEG has been exploring the sale to help gain EU approval for its long-planned purchase of US financial data provider Refinitiv.

- Key figures around 1030 GMT -

London - FTSE 100: DOWN 0.3 percent at 6,035.05 points

Frankfurt - DAX 30: UP 0.1 percent at 13,223.53

Paris - CAC 40: DOWN 0.3 percent at 5,023.17

EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 0.1 percent at 3,312.83

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 0.2 at 23,326.00 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng: UP 0.5 percent at 24,455.41 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: UP 2.1 percent at 3,338.09 (close)

New York - Dow Jones: DOWN 0.5 percent at 27,901.98 (close)

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1860 from $1.1846 at 2100 GMT

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.2988 from $1.2971

Euro/pound: DOWN at 91.32 pence from 91.33 pence

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 104.49 yen from 104.55 yen

West Texas Intermediate: UP 0.3 percent at $41.10 per barrel

Brent North Sea crude: UP 0.4 percent at $43.47 per barrel

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