European stocks struggle as investors watch rising yields and snags on vaccine rollouts

Europe Markets

Deliveroo stumbles in London debut

A man rides a bike on the deserted Place de la Concorde, during the curfew aimed at curbing the spread of the COVID-19 disease, in Paris, France on March 30, 2021.


AFP via Getty Images

European stocks struggled for traction as the quarter and month wound down on Wednesday, and investors kept an eye on bond yields and more hurdles for the continent’s already slow COVID-19 vaccine rollout. U.S. stock futures edged higher.

The Stoxx Europe 600 index
SXXP,
0.15%

was flat at 430.72, following three straight days of gains. The index rose 0.7% on Tuesday, its fifth-highest close on record. The German DAX
DAX,
0.04%

was flat on the heels of a record close, after the index jumped 1.3%. The French CAC 40
PX1,
-0.09%

and FTSE 100
UKX,
-0.27%

were also flat. The pound
GBPUSD,
0.35%

and euro
EURUSD,
0.20%

were modestly higher against the dollar.

U.S. stock futures
ES00,
-0.04%

YM00,
-0.08%

NQ00,
0.12%

were similarly going nowhere, following Tuesday’s weaker session as investors grappled with higher bond yields. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note
TMUBMUSD10Y,
1.734%

slipped back to 1.724%, after hitting 1.77% for the first time since January 2020 on Tuesday. The yield on the 10-year German bund
TMBMKDE-10Y,
-0.268%

was slightly higher at 0.274%.

Markets are looking ahead to President Joe Biden’s infrastructure proposal, and pondering the impact of the plan that is expected to cost up to $3 trillion to $4 trillion. An announcement is expected later on Wednesday.

Shares of pharmaceutical group AstraZeneca
AZN,
-1.65%

AZN,
-0.21%

slipped 0.8%. In a further blow for Europe’s slow COVID-19 vaccine rollout, Germany said it would restrict those shots for people younger than 60 after fresh blood-clotting incidents.

French President Emmanuel Macron is expected to address the nation on Wednesday evening related to the country’s surging infections.

On the data front, Germany’s unemployment rate declined in March, after an unexpected increase in February following seven months of consecutive drops. Jobless claims fell by 8,000 after rising by 9,000 in February, the Federal Employment Agency said Wednesday. That is versus forecasts for a fall of 5,000.

Eurozone inflation data are also ahead.

Among stocks on the move, shares of Deliveroo, which is backed by online retail giant Amazon
AMZN,
-0.66%
,
sank 20% on the first day of trading in London. The highly anticipated initial public offering from the food delivery service raised £1.5 billion ($2 billion), but shares still fell despite being priced at 390 pence at the lower end of an expected range. Shares of rival Just Eat Takeaway
TKWY,
-0.77%

fell 2%.

Shares of Hennes & Mauritz
HM.B,
-2.16%

fell 2%. In a statement, the Swedish retail giant said it was doing what it could to manage a boycott in China over its decision not to source products from Xinjiang over forced-labor concerns.

Separately, the retailer said it swung to a loss of 1.07 billion Swedish kronor ($122.4 million) for the quarter ended Feb. 28 compared with a profit of SEK1.93 billion a year earlier. Analysts polled by FactSet had expected a loss of SEK1.17 billion.