European stocks hit two-week low ahead of PMI data

FILE PHOTO: The German share price index DAX graph is pictured at the stock exchange in Frankfurt, Germany, March 22, 2021. REUTERS/Staff

(Reuters) – European stocks hit a two-week low on Wednesday as renewed lockdowns across the eurozone and a row over the supply of COVID-19 vaccines dented sentiment ahead of the release of business activity data.

The pan-regional STOXX 600 index fell 0.6% by 0810 GMT after the prospect of U.S. tax hikes to pay for the large stimulus package spooked Wall Street overnight. [.N]

Meanwhile, the European Union is set to extend COVID-19 vaccine export curbs to Britain and other areas with much higher vaccination rates, and to cover instances of companies backloading contracted supplies, EU officials said.

All eyes will turn to IHS Markit’s March business surveys for the euro zone and the United Kingdom.

Chipmakers, including ASM International, ASML and BE Semiconductor, were the top gainers on STOXX 600, up between 3% and 5.3% after U.S. firm Intel Corp announced a $20 billion plan to expand its advanced chip manufacturing capacity.

Banks, retailers and travel stocks declined the most on recovery worries.

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