European stock markets registered their worst weekly loss this year on Friday as geopolitical tensions over North Korea intensified.
The pan-European Stoxx 600 ended over 1 percent lower to a five-month low with almost all sectors in negative territory. For the week, the benchmark slipped 2.6 percent, while the U.K.’s FTSE 100, the German DAX and the French CAC 40 all dropped more than 2.3 percent this week.
Oil and gas, telecoms and basic resources stocks led the losses on Friday, with the latter sector down by more than 2.5 percent.
Geopolitical concerns took center stage once again after President Donald Trump issued a new round of comments against North Korea. He said Thursday that his first threat to unleash “fire and fury” may not have been tough enough. As a result the volatility index, known as the VIX, was at its highest since November 9 – a day after the U.S. elections, though it was close to record lows earlier this week – before the tensions escalated.
Thus, investors were seen to be reducing positions from traditional assets and piling into safe haven with the dollar slumping to a two-month low against the Japanese yen.
Looking at individuals stocks, Dixons Carphone ended at the bottom of the European benchmark after a downgrade from BNP Paribas. The British retailer’s shares were down by over 7 percent.
Novozymes cut its growth outlook on Friday after lower-than-expected growth in the second quarter. However, the Danish biotech company saw its stock recover from earlier losses to close almost 1 percent higher.
Meanwhile, in the U.S., stock indexes continued marginally higher on Friday, supported by weaker-than-expected consumer price data for July. The Labor Department said its Consumer Price Index inched up 0.1 percent last month, pointing to subdued inflation which could make Federal Reserve policymakers cautious regarding another interest rate hike in 2017.
Oil prices edge lower
In Italy, authorities have given Telecom Italia more time to hand in details of the role of its top shareholder Vivendi in running the company. Elsewhere, Volkswagen and Tata Motors have ended talks on an emerging markets merger, Reuters reported.
Oil prices fell around 0.5 percent on Friday amid oversupply fears. The International Energy Agency said Friday the oil market is re-balancing as demand continues to grow but more time is needed before these shifting fundamentals are felt by markets.