European shares rise as coronavirus death toll slows

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The pan-European STOXX 600 index (STOXX) was up 0.4% at 0701 GMT, after ending Friday with its biggest two-week percentage gain since 2015.

However, the benchmark index is still 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.

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.

Dutch health technology company Philips (AS:PHG) pulled its forecast for 2020 as the virus outbreak took a large bite out of its first-quarter earnings. But its shares rose 2.7% in early trading.

French media conglomerate Vivendi (PA:VIV) jumped 4.5% after reporting a higher first-quarter revenue at constant currency and perimeter, led by its music division Universal.

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