The Daily Star (Lebanon)

European shares rise cautiously

STOXX 600 suffering its biggest financial drop since February 2018

- By Julien Ponthus and Helen Reid

LONDON: European shares hit their lowest level since December 2016 in early trading as trade wars, rising U.S. yields, Brexit and the Italy/EU budget row continued to weigh on markets, before recovering modestly to end the day up 0.1 percent.

The pan-European STOXX 600 had last week suffered its biggest drop since February.

Noting that Wall Street had also managed to stage a rebound Friday, ING analysts said the risks were still significan­t.

“Just as you shouldn’t breathe too big a sigh of relief after earth tremors end, we remain anxious of a market that seems jittery, even against the backdrop of a very strong U.S. economy,” they told clients.

European shares have underperfo­rmed their American peers since the beginning of the year and analysts believe companies that fail to meet expectatio­ns during the third quarter earnings season will be severely punished.

Indeed, early company reports Monday indicated investors had no patience for below-par results.

Shares in the Spanish supermarke­t chain Dia sank 40 percent after it issued its third profit warning in 12 months and suspended 2019 dividend payments.

“That a full-year EBITDA shortfall of up to 30 percent should emerge less than three months from year end is worrying enough,” Jefferies analysts wrote.

“For this to materializ­e at a time of worsening leverage profile, historical restatemen­ts and drastic changes in leadership will add considerab­ly to investors’ concerns on Dia.”

British medical technology firm ConvaTec was the worst performer on the STOXX 600, losing a third of its market value after cutting its forecast and announcing its CEO was stepping down.

A profit warning from the British fashion group Superdry sent its shares down 17 percent.

Swedish medical equipment Getinge fell 18 percent after announcing a 200.5 million provision related to surgical mesh product liability claims.

Among the winners was Danish food science firm Chr Hansen, up 4.3 percent after delivering better-than expected results and a good outlook.

Shares in miner Randgold Resources were also among the top performers, up 5.2 percent, as gold prices hit a near-12-week high with investors looking for safe havens. The telecoms sector was the best-performing, up 1.6 percent as investors’ search for safer assets drove them into sectors considered “defensive” for their high dividend payouts.

Overall, oil and gas stocks helped support gains, up 0.7 percent as crude prices climbed on geopolitic­al tensions over the disappeara­nce of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

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