Saturday 25 February 2017

European stocks pushed down amid Greek debate

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Photo: Reuters
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Photo: Reuters

European stocks had fallen by mid-afternoon yesterday, amid continued debate over Greece's fate, and speculation the Federal Reserve will signal a slow pace of monetary tightening.

By mid-afternoon in Dublin, the ISEQ Overall Index was little changed, down just 0.02pc or 1.4 points to 6,171.41.

The leaders on the Dublin index included packaging giant Smurfit Kappa, which increased 1.9pc to €26.97, while building materials group CRH rose 1pc to €25.71.

On the other side of the board, the laggards included speciality baker Aryzta, which had lost 1.4pc to €48 by mid-afternoon. Dairy group Glanbia fell 0.8pc to €17.18.

Elsewhere, the Stoxx Europe 600 Index slid 0.3pc to 384.31 at 2.14pm in London.

Shares earlier fell as much as 0.8pc after German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble was said to have told politicians in Berlin that the German government is making contingency plans for failure to reach an aid deal with Greece by June 30. Greece's ASE Index dropped 1.4pc.

"The situation in Greece is foggy and things can change any second," said Nicola Marinelli, a fund manager at Pentalpha Capital in London.

"The US has picked up some momentum compared with the start of the year. The Fed will likely keep its stance and stay the course unless we get a big disappointment in terms of data on the labour market or growth."

Even as Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras intensified his criticism of the country's creditors, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said she will continue to do everything possible to keep Greece in the euro.

Greece has snubbed European pleas to submit a new proposal to avert insolvency, saying it was up to creditors to make the next move. The lenders say it's the other way around.

The focus now shifts to a meeting of finance ministers today and a summit of European Union leaders next week.

Car-related shares slid the most on the Stoxx 600 as Credit Suisse cut its 2015-2017 earnings estimates for suppliers because of weakness in the Chinese market. Faurecia led declines, falling 5.7pc as the bank highlighted the French company as most at risk due to its customer and product mix.

A gauge of energy stocks posted the best performance of the 19 industry groups on the Stoxx 600 as oil advanced for a second day. Tullow Oil Plc rose 4pc and Lundin Petroleum added 4.4pc.

Among stocks moving on corporate news, Telecom Italia added 2.2pc after a person familiar with the matter said Vivendi may increase its stake in the Italian company to as much as 15pc.

Berkeley Group Holdings surged 8.6pc after London's largest homebuilder posted a 45pc jump in full-year earnings. Remy Cointreau SA climbed 1pc after the French distiller reported annual operating profit that beat analyst estimates.

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