European Stock Futures Lower; Wall Street Selloff Weighs

European stock markets are seen opening lower Thursday, as investors react to the sudden selloff on Wall Street overnight.

At 2:05 AM ET (0705 GMT), the DAX futures contract in Germany traded 0.1% lower, CAC 40 futures in France dropped 1.1% and the FTSE 100 futures contract in the U.K. fell 1.1%.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed Wednesday 2.1%, or 634 points, lower. The S&P 500 ended down 2.6% while the Nasdaq Composite slipped 2.5%, amid extreme market volatility.

There have been concerns within the market about heightened speculative trading amid concerted buying by retail investors in a handful of heavily shorted stocks. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission said late Wednesday it was “aware of and actively monitoring” ongoing market volatility in options and equities markets, while Reddit briefly restricted access to its popular WallStreetBets chatroom.

Back in Europe, worries about the impact of the pandemic continue to reverberate around the continent.  U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson indicated on Wednesday that the Covid-19 lockdown in England would last into March, after the U.K.’s death toll from the virus surpassed 100,000, the first European state to reach that figure.

Britain has begun a vaccination program aimed at delivering shots to 15 million people in priority groups by the middle of February, but similar programs in large parts of the European Union have made less progress. The issue has been exacerbated by drug giants AstraZeneca (NASDAQ:AZN) and Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) both announcing delivery hold-ups in recent weeks.