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European stocks sluggish as COVID-19 cases rise

FILE PHOTO: The German share price index DAX graph is pictured at the stock exchange in Frankfurt, Germany, September 24, 2020. REUTERS/Staff

(Reuters) – Telecom stocks nudged European stocks slightly higher on Friday, but the main indexes were on course for sharp weekly declines as the continent grapples with a fresh wave of COVID-19 cases.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index .STOXX rose 0.2% by 0715 GMT, with telecom stocks .SXKP jumping 0.8% to lead sectoral gains.

Spanish telephone operator MasMovil MASM.MC rose 0.7% after a local newspaper reported that Vodafone VOD.L has started talks to buy the company. Vodafone gained 1.3%.

France’s CAC40 .FCHI fell 0.4% after the country set a new record of daily COVID-19 infections and prime minister warned on Thursday that the government could be forced to reconfine areas.

The German DAX .GDAXI slipped 0.3% and UK’s FTSE 100 .FTSE was flat.

In a volatile week marked by worries about coronavirus restrictions hampering the European economic recovery and continued unwinding of bullish bets in U.S. tech firms, the STOXX 600 benchmark was set for its worst week in over three months.

Paris Match publisher Lagardere LAGA.PA surged 10.4% after billionaire Bernard Arnault revealed he had built up a direct stake in the firm, which is under siege from several other investors.

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