Europe stocks halt 6-day win streak as ECB offers no surprises

Big 5

European stocks fell on Thursday for the first time in seven sessions, with Deutsche Bank AG shares falling despite a leap in profit, and as European Central Bank President Mario Draghi offered no major surprises as he discussed the outlook for monetary policy.

The Stoxx Europe 600 closed down 0.2% at 387.80, trimming its weekly advance to 2.6%. The index on Wednesday rose 0.5% to end at its highest since August 2015.

European stocks traded lower already from the open on Thursday after the unveiling of U.S. President Donald Trump’s plan for tax cuts and changes on Wednesday, with some analysts saying the outline lacked detail.

The march of earnings reports continued Thursday. Deutsche Bank shares pulled back 3.7% after the German lending heavyweight’s profit doubled in the first quarter, but revenue came in roughly flat when adjusted for the impact of credit spreads.

ECB meeting: European stocks held to losses Thursday afternoon while the euro was whipped around. The shared currency hit a session high of $1.0934 after Draghi said economic recovery in the eurozone is becoming “increasingly solid”. But it was dragged down to $1.0856 after he said there was no change to the inflation outlook and that inflation isn’t strong enough to warrant monetary tightening.

A stronger euro can weigh on shares of exporters as it makes their products more expensive to buy for holders of other currencies.

“In some ways this shouldn’t have been too much of a surprise, given that the final vote in the French election still has to take place, nonetheless the recovery in economic activity seen since the beginning of this year has made it much more difficult for the ECB to be too downbeat about the strength of recent economic data,” said Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets, in a note.

“Mr. Draghi’s get out of jail free card was, as expected, the weak inflation outlook, particularly core prices which are still below 1%,” he added.

The ECB made no changes to interest rates, as expected, and said again that it could increase the size or lengthen the duration of its asset-buying program if inflation looks set to fall far back below its target of near but just below 2%.

Stock movers: Deutsche Lufthansa AG shares slumped 6% after the airline group swung to a first-quarter operating profit of 25 million euros ($27.3 million). The airline group earlier this month said ticket pricing was more positive on a currency adjusted basis.

Bayer AG shares ended up 4.3% after the German pharmaceuticals and chemicals maker reported a 38% jump in net profit for the first quarter and raised its outlook for the full year.

WPP PLC shares fell 2.4% after the world’s largest advertising company said revenue growth slowed in the first quarter as clients spent less in the U.S. and emerging markets.

BBVA shares lost 2.1% after the Spanish lender said first-quarter net interest came in at €4.32 billion, slightly below a FactSet consensus estimate of €4.35 billion.

Individual indexes: Germany’s DAX 30 closed 0.2% lower at 12,443.79, while France’s CAC 40 lost 0.3% at 5,271.70.

The U.K.’s FTSE 100 gave up 0.7% at 7,237.17.

Source: MarketWatch

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