European stocks closed lower on Friday afternoon, as investors monitored a raft of economic data and the latest developments in the coronavirus outbreak.
The pan-European Stoxx 600 fluctuated for much of the day but closed 0.6% lower, taking cues from poor sentiment over on Wall Street.
The spread of a new strain of coronavirus was the main focus for investors, as the number of cases and deaths grew. China’s National Health Commission said another 889 cases had been confirmed in the mainland, while the death toll rose by 118 to 2,236. China’s commerce ministry said it expected the growth rate of January/February imports and exports to fall sharply due to blockages in logistics, delays in the resumption of work and other factors such as the Lunar New Year.
In the U.S., stocks fell sharply on the new coronavirus cases, which fueled worries over a pronounced global economic slowdown.