A general view of Vopakat refinery in the Port of Rotterdam which home to other large companies producing petrol, diesel and oil including BP, Guvnor Petroleum, VPR Engery, Exxonmobil or Exxon Mobil, ESSO and Shell w in Rotterdam, Netherlands.


Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

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
SXXP,
+0.97%

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
DAX,
+1.22%

rose 0.8%, the French CAC 40
PX1,
+1.04%

rose 0.6% and the FTSE 100
UKX,
+1.09%

gained nearly 1%.

U.K. stocks got a break from weakness in the British pound
GBPUSD,
-0.24%
,
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
NQ00,
+1.74%

up 1.5%. Dow
YM00,
+0.69%

and S&P 500 futures
ES00,
+0.89%

rose around 0.5% each.

The Nasdaq Composite
COMP,
-4.11%

tumbled 4.1% on Tuesday, as electric-car maker Tesla suffered its biggest one-day fall ever. The Dow industrials
DJIA,
-2.24%

tumbled 632 points, or 2.3%, and the S&P 500
SPX,
-2.77%

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
AZN,
+2.10%

AZN,
-0.31%

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
ROG,
+0.78%

up 0.8% and GlaxoSmithKline PLC
GSK,
+2.10%

rising 2%.

Gains for major oil companies provided support for major European indexes, with shares of Royal Dutch Shell PLC
RDSA,
-1.29%

rising 1.8%, BP PLC
BP,
+3.07%

up 1.7% and Total SE
FP,
+2.08%

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
CL.1,
+1.44%

were modestly higher on Wednesday.



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