European shares turned lower on Monday, led by losses in energy and consumer companies, as a spike in coronavirus cases globally kept investors on edge. The pan-European STOXX 600 index slipped 0.3 percent in a volatile morning, with Asian markets firmly in the red as the global death toll from COVID-19 reached half a million people on Sunday.
Shares in Total and Royal Dutch Shell fell more than 1 percent, as oil prices dropped on worries of further restrictions hitting fuel demand. Consumer stocks such as Unilever, Danone and L'Oreal also weighed, falling between 1.2 percent and 2.6 percent.
European Markets Witness Rise
European markets have climbed in recent weeks, helped by the region's relative success in reopening its economy and the European Union's proposed 750 billion euro ($841.73 billion) recovery fund. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron are set to meet later in the day to discuss the fund.
"Equity markets are under some pressure given fears of a spike in COVID-19 cases in the United States and as the month ends, many investors have to sell some equities to rebalance their portfolios," said Sebastien Galy, macro strategist at Nordea Asset Management. "This pressure should ebb as we start a new month while data should start to show some signs of an economic recovery."
Data showed profits at China's industrial firms rose for the first time in six months in May, suggesting the recovery is gaining traction. Eurozone consumer confidence data is due at 1000 am GMT.
Wirecard Shares Soar
German scandal-hit payments company Wirecard soared 152 percent, following an about 170 percent plunge in the past three weeks, with traders pointing to media reports that French payments processor Worldline and other private investors are interested in buying parts of the company. Wirecard also said it would proceed with business activities after filing for insolvency.
Austrian sensor producer AMS jumped 4.2 percent after Reuters reported the company is poised to get the go-ahead from the European Union for its acquisition of German lighting group Osram. Commerzbank rose 2 percent after a German newspaper reported that the lender's board will likely approve more branch closures and job cuts at an extraordinary meeting next week.