European shares edge higher after latest round of US-China tariffs

Stoxx 600 climbs 0.3%, buoyed by tech, healthcare, and consumer staples stocks

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York . Photograph: Brendan McDermid/Reuters

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York . Photograph: Brendan McDermid/Reuters


European shares edged up on Thursday after the latest round of US-China tariffs kicked in, hurting trade-sensitive autos stocks but boosting demand for sectors seen as more insulated from an escalating trade dispute.

The Stoxx 600 climbed 0.3 per cent, buoyed by tech, healthcare, and consumer staples stocks - “defensives” which investors reach for as safer bets in times of uncertainty for their strong earnings growth and high dividend payouts.

The United States and China implemented 25 per cent tariffs on $16 billion worth of each other’s goods on Thursday, bringing to $50 billion the value of imports subjected to tariffs on either side since early July, with more in the pipeline. Autos stocks were the worst-performing for a second day.

On Wednesday a surprise profit warning from tyre maker Continental sank the stock and hit the sector, already one of the worst impacted by tariff fears. Continental fell a further 1.5 percent, bottom of the Dax, taking its losses to 15 per cent since Wednesday’s open.

Carmakers Daimler, BMW and Volkswagen fell 0.8 to 1.1 per cent, while Valeo, Renault, Michelin and Peugeot were the biggest Cac 40 fallers. Overall shares continued to move in a range, in a trend that is unsettling some investors concerned about complacency in the market. “We have not witnessed (or not yet) a sudden evaporation of risk appetite, as happened, for example, after the summer of 2015, the last time that the health of the world economy was truly in debate,” said ODDO BHF economists. “Corrections and turbulence in recent months and weeks have been fairly localised in both space and time.”

Strong earnings growth is part of what is preserving the market. With the second-quarter results season tailing off, MSCI Europe firms have reported 10.9 percent year-on-year earnings growth. Outside trade war moves, shares in budget airline Ryanair jumped 6.3 per cent to the top of the Stoxx after the Irish pilots’ union Forsa said it had reached an agreement in a labour dispute. Shares in Swiss asset manager GAM fell 3.7 per cent, the biggest decline on the Stoxx 600.

The stock is down 22 per cent since July 31st, when it suspended a director, halting dealing in some bond funds soon afterwards. Austria’s Raiffeisen Bank, which operates across eastern Europe and has been in the firing line as new U.S. sanctions on Russia develop, fell 2.5 percent. Shares in Danish medical equipment, supplies and distribution company Ambu recovered swiftly from a 10 percent drop at the open after its third-quarter results missed analysts’ targets. Swiss telecoms group Sunrise Communications rose 6.5 percent after it increased its guidance for full-year 2018 EBITDA. Building materials firm CRH pared early gains to trade up just 1.1 per cent after reporting first-half margins held steady and striking a positive tone for earnings in the second half of the year. - Reuters