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European shares rebounded on Monday as a slowdown in coronavirus deaths raised hopes that nationwide lockdowns were starting to show results, while Rolls Royce soared after becoming the latest multinational firm to raise cash to weather an economic slump.
The British aero-engine maker jumped 15.4% after losing more than half its value this year, as it secured an extra 1.5 billion pounds ($1.8 billion) in reserves, even though it suspended its dividend for the first time since 1987.
The benchmark STOXX 600 index was up 2.7%, after ending Friday with its sixth weekly decline in seven as the health crisis stalled business activity, raising the threat of mass layoffs and corporate defaults.
Italian and French bourses jumped 3.1% and 3.3%, respectively, as data showed Italy reported its lowest daily death toll in more than two weeks on Sunday, while France's death toll dropped and admissions into intensive care slowed.
"Signs of a slowdown in the epidemic in Europe have certainly been more stable, although we still have a very high number of cases," said Simona Gambarini, markets economist at Capital Economics.
"It's still early to say whether this is really a turning point because there might be a sense that there has been a slowdown, but then there is a flare up later on."
The STOXX 600 index has lost more than $3 trillion in market value since February on fears of a global recession as entire sectors teetered on the brink of collapse, prompting companies to suspend dividends and share buybacks to shore up cash.
Norwegian Air fell 5.2% after saying its passenger volume plunged 60% year-on-year in March as a virtual halt in business and holiday travel forced airlines to ground their fleet.
The pan-European STOXX 600 index rose 2.7% at 0716 GMT - hitting its highest in almost a month, with governors of several hard-hit U.S. states pointing to tentative signs the outbreak might be starting to plateau.
During Milan Fashion Week, cheek kissing was dropped as the week went on and cases spiralled in favour of other acknowledgments, like a little double kiss to fingertips that one fashionista dubbed ‘the new coronavirus kiss.’
A total of 350,196 deaths have been reported, from 5,589,389 cases, including 173,713 in Europe from 2,057,414 infections. The United States has registered the most deaths of any country, 98,929, ahead of Britain with 37,048, Italy with 32,955, France with 28,530 and Spain with 27,117.
With a total of 75,011 deaths from 909,673 infections, Europe is the hardest-hit continent in the COVID-19 pandemic, which has killed at least 109,133 people worldwide. Europe's most affected country is Italy with 19,468 deaths, followed by Spain with 16,972, France with 13,832 and Britain with 9,875.
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