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LONDON: Global stock markets sank on Monday as soaring COVID-19 cases offset investor hopes of a quick economic recovery, while the Chinese economy posted a better-than-expected rebound in the fourth quarter of 2020.

European stocks as measured by the STOXX 600 index opened 0.3% weaker, after failed merger talks between French retailer Carrefour and Alimentation Couche-Tard.

Germany’s DAX fell 0.2%, France’s CAC 40 index fell 0.3% and Italy’s FTSE MIB index slipped 0.3%. Britain’s FTSE 100 index fell 0.1%.

In Asia, Chinese blue chips gained 0.8% after the economy was reported to have grown 6.5% in the fourth quarter, on a year earlier, topping forecasts of 6.1%.

Industrial production for December also beat estimates, though retail sales missed the mark.

“The recovery in domestic demand still lacks a solid backing,” said Lauri Hälikkä, fixed income and FX strategist at SEB. “Sporadic virus outbreaks have intensified downside risks in the near term.”

Hallika said the impact of the latest regional lockdowns and mass testing is likely to be limited and short-lived.

The pick-up in China was a marked contrast to the United States and Europe, where the spread of…

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