Friday, December 14, 2018

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European stocks were lower Wednesday morning, as resurgent trade worries worsened investor fears about global economic growth.

Stoxx 600 slipped 1.2 percent during early morning deals, with all sectors and major bourses in negative territory.


Europe’s construction and material stocks led the losses shortly after the opening bell, down more than 2 percent amid growing trade war concerns. France’s Saint-Gobain was the worst sectoral performer after J.P. Morgan cut its stock recommendation to “neutral” from “overweight.” Shares of the Paris-listed stock were down over 3 percent on the news.

Looking at individual stocks, Britain’s Hargreaves Lansdown slumped to the bottom of the European benchmark after Morgan Stanley cut its stock recommendation to “underweight” from “equal-weight.” Shares of the London-listed firm fell 5 percent Wednesday morning.

Meanwhile, U.K.-listed drugmaker Shire was the top performer on Britain’s FTSE 100 index during early morning deals. Japan’s Takeda Pharmaceutical secured shareholder approval to complete a £46 billion ($59 billion) takeover of the company Wednesday morning, prompting shares of Shire to jump 2 percent.

Market focus is largely attuned to global trade developments, amid rising doubts that the world’s two largest economies will be able to secure a comprehensive trade deal during a cease-fire on tariffs.

The U.S. and China agreed to temporarily hold off on imposing additional charges against each other’s goods over the weekend. President Donald Trump and President Xi Jinping‘s trade truce prompted global stocks to surge higher on Monday but fading optimism over the political deal has since pared equity market gains.

Meanwhile, concerns about slowing U.S. growth appeared to accelerate declines in long-term Treasury yields overnight. Signals from the U.S. central bank last week that it could be nearing an end to its three-year rate hiking cycle pushed the U.S. 10-year Treasury yield to three-month lows, below 3 percent on Tuesday.

Trading volumes are expected to be relatively low on Wednesday, with U.S. stock markets closed as citizens observe a national day of mourning for President George H. W. Bush.


Back in Europe, investors are likely to closely monitor any further political developments as lawmakers continue to debate Westminster’s Brexit plan.

Prime Minister Theresa May suffered a series of embarrassing defeats in Parliament on Tuesday, prompting sterling to fall below the $1.27 mark for the first time since the end of October.

The U.K. currency stood at $1.2657, down around 0.3 percent shortly before Wednesday’s opening bell.

On the data front, the euro area is expected to published retail sales figures for October at around 10:00 a.m. London time.


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