The pan European STOXX 600 index gained 0.2%, after ending Friday with its biggest two week percentage increase since 2015, on signs the health crisis was easing in hotspots Italy, France and Spain. Food and Drug Administration to conduct a randomized trial of malaria drug hydroxychloroquine against COVID 19.Roche, which is also testing an older medicine for signs it could be repurposed to tackle the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, rose 0.8%.The benchmark STOXX 600 remains down about 23% from its record high, and investors are bracing for a deep economic slump as evidence of the business damage from the pandemic piles up.Article content “The flood of negative economic and corporate earnings figures that will reach us in the coming weeks should only slow the rally slightly,” said Milan Cutkovic, market analyst at AxiCorp.”A lot of it is already priced in and investors are now focused on how the pandemic will be managed and whether companies have the right plan and necessary liquidity to withstand the storm.”Oakley and Ray Ban maker EssilorLuxottica became the latest company to scrap its dividend and said it could consider cost cuts to shore up cash reserves as the pandemic chokes business. Its shares rose 0.5%As the first quarter earnings season kicks into high gear, analysts expect STOXX 600 firms to post a 22% plunge in earnings after initially forecasting a 10.5% rise, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.With coronavirus deaths slowing in some of the worst hit parts of Europe, some countries have signaled they could relax strict stay at home orders to restart supply chains, but health officials have warned of another wave of infections if the lockdowns are lifted too soon.”That is going to be a disastrous outcome and instead of confronting a steep recession, we might end up with a long lasting depression,” said Hussein Sayed, chief market strategist at FXTM.”Equity performance cannot diverge for a prolonged period of time from fundamentals, so if we do not see a true economic recovery in the coming months, we expect another leg lower in stock markets.”Energy stocks slipped 0.6%, tracking a slump in oil prices to levels not seen since 1999 on fears of oversupply.Dutch health technology company Philips pulled its forecast for 2020 as the virus outbreak took a large bite out of its first quarter earnings.
“Understanding that the same company owned LensCrafters and Pro Vision, Ray Ban and Oakley, and the licenses for Chanel and Prada prescription frames and sunglasses, all of a sudden it made sense to me why glasses were so expensive,” Dave says. And this meant that another group of people could make an alternate choice. “We could do things differently,” Dave suddenly understood.