May 21, 2020 / 7:39 AM / 16 days ago

LIVE MARKETS-Opening snapshot: risk-off, Lufthansa shines on rescue plan

* Stoxx 600 down 0.9%

* Sweden, Denmark, Norway stock markets closed

* U.S. stock futures down 0.7% Welcome to the home for real-time coverage of European equity markets brought to you by Reuters stocks reporters. You can share your thoughts Joice Alves (joice.alves@thomsonreuters.com) and Julien Ponthus (julien.ponthus@thomsonreuters.com) in London and Stefano Rebaudo (stefano.rebaudo@thomsonreuters.com) in Milan.

OPENING SNAPSHOT: RISK-OFF, LUFTHANSA SHINES ON RESCUE PLAN (0734 GMT)

Today is risk-off after a hope rally yesterday, as investors are still uncertain about the pandemic developments and its longer-term impact over the global economy.

The pan European index is 0.9% lower, with banks leading losses, down more than 2%. Among the best performers utilities and healthcare, down about 0.8%.

Lufthansa among the winners of the session, with shares up 5%, after the airliner said it was in advanced talks with the government over a rescue deal of up to 9 billion euros.

easyJet shares are bucking the trend too, up 2.3%, after the company said a small number of flights would restart on June 15.

Whitbread slumped 10.4% after announcing a $1.2 billion rights issue plan.

AstraZeneca down 0.8%, in line with the broader index, after first agreements to supply at least 400 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine it is developing with the University of Oxford.

(Stefano Rebaudo)

ON THE RADAR: PHARMA, LUFTHANSA, GENERALI (0648 GMT)

European equities are set for a risk-off session as worries about the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic continue to weigh.

Investors are expected to swing between hopes for a full reopening of the economy and anxiety about the longer-term impact of the virus, until the effect of the gradual easing in lockdowns on the infection rates will be clear.

On the corporate front AstraZeneca received the first agreements to supply at least 400 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine it is developing with the University of Oxford.

GlaxoSmithKline’s consumer health unit has tied up with Mammoth Biosciences to develop a test that uses a technology commonly used in gene editing to detect novel coronavirus infections.

Then the impact of the pandemic over company results: Assicurazioni Generali’s first quarter net profit fell 85% year on year after 655 million euros of impairments due to the impact of Covid-19 on financial markets.

Aviva’s life new business sales rose by 28% to 12.3 billion pounds in the first quarter, and it estimated it would pay 160 million pounds in coronavirus-related claims.

Whitbread set out plans to raise 1.01 billion pounds through a rights issue.

The collapse in oil prices has led potential buyers of oil and gas fields to renegotiate deals.

Lufthansa said it is in advanced talks with the German government over a rescue deal worth up to 9 billion euros, including the state taking a 20% stake in the company, after media reports said the government has agreed on the final details of the rescue package.

Total has secured $14.4 billion funding for its Mozambique liquefied natural gas project in Mozambique.

EasyJet said a small number of flights would restart on June 15, with compulsory face masks.

(Stefano Rebaudo)

MORNING CALL: FUTURES BACK IN THE RED (0532 GMT)

European futures and their U.S. peers are trading in the red as investors remain wary of the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak.

Wall Street’s rise overnight on hopes of a quick recovery with potential more stimulus from the Fed is not enough to prop up equities in European morning trade.

Asian stocks ended flat ahead of a key policy gathering in China that may yield more economic stimulus and on worries of possible escalating tensions between U.S. and China.

(Stefano Rebaudo)

Reporting by Joice Alves, Julien Ponthus, Stefano Rebaudo and Thyagaraju Adinarayan

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