European markets edge lower on earnings; Trump visits China

European stocks edged lower on Wednesday morning as investors focused on earnings and monitored President Donald Trump’s trip to Asia.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 was slightly lower, down 0.2 percent, with most sectors moving into negative territory.

Financials and banking stocks fell more than 0.6 percent also on earnings and doubts over U.S. plans to reform the tax system. The French bank Credit Agricole fell more than 4 percent after posting lower net profits. The Italian bank BPM was halted from trading after falling more than 4.9 percent, Reuters reported.

Utility stocks started as the top performers in early trade, but fell into negative ground as investors worried over regulation on a proposed merger between the British firm SSE and Innogy. They announced earlier that they would merge their British retail energy business.

Household goods were higher on earnings. In particular, Ubisoft rose 8 percent after posting second-quarter sales above forecasts.

Marks & Spencer was slightly higher in late-morning trade after announcing pretax profits slightly above forecasts, though lower from a year ago. The clothing and homeware arm of the British brand struggled, but its food and international business grew.

Persimmon dropped more than 3 percent, though the housebuilder said that forward sales beyond 2017 were up 10 percent and it had sold all of its stock for the current year, Reuters reported. The British firm acquired more than 5,500 new plots in the third quarter of the year.

Vonovia said its rental income was higher by 8.1 percent in the first nine months of the year. The shares of the German real-estate company were slightly lower.

More broadly, investors will monitor developments in Saudi Arabia where an anti-corruption crackdown has led to several arrests of top officials. On Monday, the Kingdom also accused Iran of being behind a ballistic missile attack carried out in Yemen, sparking tensions in the region.

Elsewhere, Trump told North Korea to avoid making a “fatal miscalculation.” The message was delivered as the president continues with his 12-day trip to Asia. Source: CNBC

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