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European Markets Gain as BoE Holds Rates 

The European markets gain amid the coronavirus focus.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 rose 0.8% by late this morning with retail stocks surging 2.8% to lead the gains. The telecoms sector also bucked the upward trend to drop by 0.7%.

Covid-19 data remains in focus as the U.S. and Europe cautiously lift lockdowns. The coronavirus has now claimed the lives of at least 263,000 people globally and infected over 3.7 million people.

Several weeks ago, Germany was one of the countries that started to lift lockdown restrictions. On Thursday, Germany reported 1,284 new cases, a jump from 947 new cases reported the previous day.

The new data took Germany’s tally of confirmed cases to 166,091, and its death toll rose by 123 to 7119, according to data from the Robert Koch Institute. Robert Koch Institute is a federal government agency responsible for disease monitoring and prevention.

On Wednesday, Angela Merkel Germany’s Chancellor announced steps to ease lockdowns but also launched an “emergency brake” mechanism. The country would impose restrictions again if cases escalate.

Bank of England holds interest rates

In the U.K., the Prime Minister indicated that they would start lifting lockdown measures as early as Monday. Boris Johnson will update the nation with the details on Sunday.

On Thursday, the Bank of England (BOE) held interest rates at 0.1%. However, it was ready to take further action should the economic crisis continue to deteriorate. The UK Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is expected to fall by 14% this year.

Meanwhile, Asia stocks changed little on Thursday during the afternoon trade as a private survey showed China’s services sector slumping in April.

China’s Caixin/Markit services PMI for April showed that the country’s services sector slumped for the third straight month as layoffs hit the record.

The Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) came in at 44.4, an improvement from 43 in March, but still below the 50-level that separates contraction from growth.

On Thursday, China also reported that its dollar-dominated exports rose while imports dropped in April as the country eased movement restrictions.

On the corporates earning front, the Air France KLM posted its first-quarter operating loss of $880 million before the bell on Thursday.

Biggest movers

Zalando, Germany’s e-commerce company, and Morphosys, a biotech firm, saw their stocks jump more than 11% after posting strong first-quarter earnings.

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