European stocks tumbled onThursday and notched its first monthly loss of 2015, as investors weighed a rise in the euro and concerns about slowing global growth.
The Stoxx Europe 600 SXXP, -0.38% gave up 0.4% to close at 395.79, with the lowest close since late March coming mainly as technology stocks struggled. The pullback was the benchmark’s third in a row, with Wednesday’s 2.2% selloff underpinned by U.S. data that showed meager growth in the world’s largest economy in the first quarter.
“Confidence certainly seems to have been shaken up, with a few unknowns impacting investors,” said IG Market Strategist Stan Shamu in a note Thursday. There was “an unprecedented QE program by the U.S. and, judging by the way data is going, the economy isn’t quite able to stand on its own two feet yet.”
The Stoxx 600 closed April with a 0.4% decline, the first monthly loss since December. Equities have been rallying to all-time highs this year, fueled by funding resulting from the European Central Bank’s €1.1-trillion ($1.23 trillion) bond-buying program, aimed at bolstering inflation levels and encouraging economic growth.
The massive asset-purchase program has also driven government bond yields throughout the region to record lows.
Data: Data released Thursday showed eurozone inflation was stopped falling in April from negative 0.1% in March. But inflation still has a long way to go to reach the ECB’s target of around 2%. Read: It is too early to cheer eurozone inflation
German jobless claims in April were down 8,000 from March, less than the decline of 13,000 forecast in a Wall Street Journal poll of economists.
Euro: The shared currency EURUSD, +0.74% was trading at $1.1170, but bounced above $1.12 during the session. The euro held to gains against the U.S. dollar, as investors appeared to shrug off the Federal Reserve’s statement late Wednesday that suggested it is keeping its options open on interest rates. Many analysts, however, think the Fed will hold off on an interest-rate hike at least until September.
The euro was up about 4% versus the greenback in April. On Wednesday, it posted its best day against the dollar in six weeks, a move that contributed to a 3.2% slide in Germany’s DAX 30 DAX, +0.19% On Thursday, the DAX rose 0.2% to 11,454.28, but closed April lower by 4.3%.
Corporates: Among stock movers, French steel-pipe maker Vallourec SA VK, -9.25% dropped 9.3%. The sharpest decline since June 2014 came after the company late Wednesday swung to a first-quarter loss of €76 million ($84.4 million), and revenue fell more than 17%, under pressure as demand from energy companies softens. Standard & Poor’s downgraded Vallourec’s credit rating late Wednesday.
Shares in Alcatel-Lucent ALU, -9.66% tumbled 9.7% after a major shareholder in the French telecoms company criticized the terms of its proposed buyout by Nokia NOK1V, -10.71% NOK, -10.68% Odey Asset Management, which holds more than 5% of Alcatel-Lucent, described the sale to Nokia as “unacceptable,” the Financial Times reported. Shares in Nokia shaved off 10.7%.
Meanwhile, Nokia on Thursday said its network business in the first quarter saw underlying operating profit fall to €85 million from €216 million, on higher revenue.
Greece: The Athex Composite GD, +3.12% swung higher, ending up 3.1% at 822.88 following reports that debt-saddled Greece is opening up to larger concessions in talks with its creditors. Bond prices were higher, pushing the yield on 2-year debt down 2.1 percentage points to 19.1%. The yield on 10-year debt fell 75 basis points to 10.4%.
Moody’s late Wednesday cut its rating on Greece’s debt deeper into junk territory, to ‘Caa2’.