US-China fears hit markets as Ryanair weighs on Iseq
EUROPEAN shares retreated yesterday as a mixed batch of corporate earnings failed to offset concerns about the US-China trade conflict and subdued eurozone manufacturing growth.
Caution was also palpable ahead of the Federal Reserve’s decision, due yesterday, with the US central bank expected to keep interest rates on hold before two hikes later this year.
Basic materials was the worst-performing sector as copper prices slid following reports that the United States may propose a higher, 25pc tariff on $200bn of Chinese imports.
Last month, China and the United States imposed tit-for-tat tariffs on $34bn of each other’s goods and another round of tariffs on $16bn is expected in August. Rio Tinto added to pressure on the sector as disappointing results sent its stock down 3.4pc, despite news of an additional $1bn share buyback.
Factory growth stuttered across the world in July, heightening concerns about the global economic outlook as the intensifying trade conflict between the United States and China sent shudders through trading partners.
In Ireland, the Iseq Overall Index slipped 0.24pc, despite a robust performance by packaging group Smurfit Kappa as Ryanair tanked.
Its shares climbed 3pc to €36.14 as the FTSE-100 company announced a 27pc increase in first-half earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation.
Shares in Ryanair sank 4.2pc to €13.50 as it faces increasing strike action around Europe, with pilots in Sweden and Belgium now set to take action.
FBD was slightly lower at €10.30 despite a solid set of first-half results that saw its pre-tax profit soar 55pc to €18.4m.
The UK’s FTSE-100 tumbled 1.2pc. Germany’s DAX was 0.53pc lower for the session, while France’s CAC-40 declined 0.23pc.
Earnings drove the lion’s share of moves across the UK market, with retailer Next, power provider Aggreko, and contractor Capita among the most prominent. High-street retailer Next fell to the bottom of the FTSE 100. (Reuters)