European nations are stepping up vaccination campaigns, but some are also restricting activities again, which investors fear could hurt the economy

London (AFP) - Europe’s main stock markets slipped Tuesday, as the spreading Covid crisis took the shine off upbeat survey data.

London stocks edged fractionally lower around midday, while Frankfurt dropped 0.7 percent and Paris lost 0.2 percent in early afternoon trade.

Europe is battling an upsurge in the pandemic that saw Austria return to lockdown on Monday.

Belgium and the Netherlands are still reeling from recent violent protests against new anti-Covid measures.

Germany has warned its curbs – including barring the unvaccinated from certain public spaces – are not enough.

- ‘Investors in lockdown mode’ -

“It would appear European investors are (also) in lockdown mode,” Craig Erlam, analyst at Oanda trading group, told AFP.

Austria’s lockdown “was a shock to the system but Germany – should it follow – would be a hammer blow to the recovery.

“Thankfully, a number of other countries have a far less severe situation – but as we have seen, that can quickly change at this time of year,” Erlam added.

Nevertheless, eurozone economic recovery is again gaining pace in November, according to the IHS Markit purchasing managers’ index (PMI), which measures corporate confidence.

Yet the survey also highlighted increasing inflationary pressures, with prices and wages rising more steeply.

Britain’s PMI showed a modest slow down on rising energy and wage bills.

In foreign exchange, the dollar extended gains as investors bet on quicker Federal Reserve monetary tightening after boss Jerome Powell was nominated for a second term.

The greenback briefly topped 115 yen in Asian trades for the first time since 2017.

The euro dropped as low as $1.1226, last seen in July 2020.

While Powell was widely expected to get the nod from Joe Biden to continue to head the central bank, the news saw all three main Wall Street indexes drop from intra-day highs.

The Nasdaq ending down more than one percent owing to tech firms’ susceptibility to higher interest rates.

- Crude prices down -

Oil prices fell on speculation the United States and several other top consumers including South Korea, India and Japan are considering an announcement to release some of their strategic reserves to temper the surge in prices that has helped fan inflation.

However, OPEC and other major producers warned that such a move could lead them to reconsider continuing with their monthly output increases.

- Key figures around 1200 GMT -

London - FTSE 100: FLAT at 7,253.24 points

Frankfurt - DAX: DOWN 0.7 percent at 16,005.73

Paris - CAC 40: DOWN 0.2 percent at 7,089.71

EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 0.7 percent at 4,310.61

Hong Kong - Hang Seng Index: DOWN 1.2 percent at 24,651.58 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: UP 0.2 percent at 3,589.09 (close)

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: Closed for a holiday

New York - Dow: UP less than 0.1 percent at 35,619.25 (close)

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1247 from $1.1237 at 2200 GMT

Euro/pound: UP at 84.17 pence from 83.87 pence

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.3356 from $1.3397

Dollar/yen: UP at 114.93 yen from 114.88 yen

Brent North Sea crude: DOWN 0.8 percent at $79.03 per barrel

West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 1.2 percent at $75.80 per barrel