Sunday 25 February 2018

European stocks on the decline for a fourth day

The London Stock Exchange
The London Stock Exchange

European stocks headed for their longest losing streak in more than a month as the latest batch of earnings failed to lift investor sentiment.

By mid-afternoon in Dublin, the ISEQ Overall Index was down 0.32pc, or 19.20 points, to 6,022.96.

The leaders on the Dublin market included insurance group FBD, which had increased by 1.3pc to €6.48, while Independent News & Media, the parent company of this newspaper, increased 6.3pc to 17 cents by mid-afternoon.

On the other side of the board, the laggards included Paddy Power Betfair, which had lost 3.7pc to €111.45, even though the company said that the post-merger integration at the newly merged Dublin-headquartered betting giant is on track after the company reported a 16pc year on year increase in its revenues.

Insulation group Kingspan dropped 1.4pc to €22.58.

Elsewhere, the Stoxx Europe 600 Index dropped 0.8pc to 332.89 at 1.39pm in London. The equity gauge has lost momentum after rallying to a three-month high on April 20, with investors intensifying their focus on financial results amid lacklustre economic data. Analysts have slashed profit projections for Stoxx 600 firms this year, reversing earlier calls for growth to forecast a decline.

Anheuser-Busch InBev slipped 2.3pc after the world's largest brewer posted sales and profit growth that missed analysts' estimates.

BHP Billiton dragged miners lower, falling 5.9pc as commodities sank and Brazilian prosecutors filed a $44bn civil suit over a November dam rupture.

Royal Dutch Shell lost 2.1pc even as it posted a lower-than-forecast drop in first-quarter profit.

Societe Generale added 3.1pc after reporting an unexpected increase in earnings.

"It's looking fragile despite the latest clutch of European earnings coming out rather better than expected," said Mike Ingram, a market strategist at BGC Partners in London.

"Markets buy the future, not the past, and the outlook for the global economy remains far from clear. Conviction levels against a further slide remain low and, given the bounce from February lows, it's prudent to take some money off the table."

Among other stocks moving on corporate news, London Stock Exchange Group tumbled 6.4pc after Intercontinental Exchange said it wouldn't bid for the bourse operator. The decision clears the way for Deutsche Boerse to combine with the British exchange in a deal that would create the biggest operator in Europe. Deutsche Boerse jumped 5.4pc.

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