European stocks closed lower on Tuesday as investors monitored the coronavirus pandemic and the imposition of further restrictions, along with a U.S. Senate runoff election in Georgia.
The pan-European Stoxx 600 ended down 0.2% after fluctuating either side of the flatline throughout the trading day. Utilities fell 1.3%, while oil and gas stocks surged 3.6% amid a spike in oil prices and reports of a crude output compromise between OPEC kingpin Saudi Arabia and non-OPEC leader Russia.
European investor sentiment was hit by concerns over the speed of coronavirus vaccine deployment in mainland Europe, and a third national lockdown that has been imposed in England.
The country on Tuesday entered its toughest nationwide lockdown since last March, with schools closed until mid-February. In a televised address Monday night, Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned that the weeks ahead “will be the hardest yet.” Hopes are being placed on the speedy rollout of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, and Oxford University-AstraZeneca’s vaccine, that began on Monday.