European stocks gained Wednesday, propelled higher by oil companies and drugmakers, though shares of AstraZeneca PLC fell after it temporarily halted trials of its COVID-19 candidate.
U.S. stock futures also pointed to a bounce later, with technology stocks poised to lead the gains.
The Stoxx Europe 600 index rose 0.7% after a drop of just over 1% on Tuesday. The index has dropped seven of the last nine trading sessions. Elsewhere, the German DAX rose 0.8%, the French CAC 40 rose 0.6% and the FTSE 100 gained nearly 1%.
U.K. stocks got a break from weakness in the British pound, which fell 0.4% against the dollar after the U.K. told the European Union that it is readying preparations to exit from the bloc without any accord. A weak pound can benefit U.K. companies who derive revenue from overseas as it makes their goods more competitive.
Stock futures pointed to a potential firmer start for Wall Street, with Nasdaq-100 futures up 1.5%. Dow and S&P 500 futures rose around 0.5% each.
The Nasdaq Composite tumbled 4.1% on Tuesday, as electric-car maker Tesla suffered its biggest one-day fall ever. The Dow industrials tumbled 632 points, or 2.3%, and the S&P 500 dropped 2.8%.
“There is yet to be a clear signal that the index has passed an inflection point, although the possibility remains that the pandemic-fuelled rise of the last few months may be easing as the world returns to some sort of normality,” said Richard Hunter, head of markets at Interactive Investor, in a note to clients.
Shares of AstraZeneca PLC fell 1% after the drugmaker paused late-stage trials of its COVID-10 vaccine candidate after one patient became ill, possibly a reaction to the treatment.
”This is a routine action which has to happen whenever there is a potentially unexplained illness in one of the trials, while it is investigated, ensuring we maintain the integrity of the trials,” the company said in a statement late Tuesday.
“These setbacks are not unusual in trials, and standard review processes trigger pauses to investigate the data,” Stephen Innes, global chief market strategist at AxiCorp, in a note to clients.
Other drugmakers fared better, with shares of Roche Holding AG up 0.8% and GlaxoSmithKline PLC rising 2%.
Gains for major oil companies provided support for major European indexes, with shares of Royal Dutch Shell PLC rising 1.8%, BP PLC up 1.7% and Total SE rose 1%.
Oil prices fell to their lowest settlement since June on Tuesday amid concerns a continued rise in global pandemic cases will dent demand. Crude futures were modestly higher on Wednesday.