European stocks were mostly higher on Tuesday morning 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 hovered 0.2% above the flatline in early trade after a choppy start, with oil and gas stocks climbing 1.3% while utilities dropped 0.7%.
European investor sentiment is being 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 will on Tuesday enter 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.
Germany is also expected to extend its own lockdown measures later Tuesday. According to media reports, the current restrictions — which include the closure of schools, retailers and restaurants — are all set to continue until at least the end of January.