European shares edge lower amid trade tensions

Iseq underperforms peers with 1 per cent drop

European shares edged lower, having earlier held firm after a mixed selection of corporate earnings.

Global trade tensions and Brexit jitters remained in play, deterring investors from buying riskier assets, while a rally in oil prices failed to pull major oil stocks Shell and BP into positive territory.


The Iseq dropped 1 per cent, underperforming the major European indices, as cement-maker CRH led the declines. The building materials group, an index heavyweight, rose in early trading, with analysts at Morgan Stanley giving the stock an "overweight" rating, but it closed down 2.15 per cent at €29.55.

The banks were among the fallers, on a bad day for financial stocks across Europe, with Bank of Ireland declining 1.6 per cent to just below €4.52 and AIB down 2.1 per cent at €3.58. Property stocks also went into reverse, with Glenveagh Properties ending 4.2 per cent lower at 69 cent and Cairn Homes losing 3.1 per cent to close at €1.13.


Kerry Group slipped back 1.2 per cent to €106.70, but Green Reit rose 0.7 per cent to €1.84 despite Irish Life's move to exit the race to buy the real-estate investment trust.


The FTSE 100 index declined 0.6 per cent amid sharp falls in major oil stocks.

Precious metals mining stock Fresnillo slid 2.8 per cent after it cut its annual production targets, citing lower-than-expected ore grades and construction delays at a gold mine in Mexico. But the biggest drags on the blue-chip index were Shell and BP, which slipped 1.5 per cent and 2.9 per cent respectively.

Johnson Matthey skidded 5.4 per cent after it said profit at its Clean Air business would fall this year.

Falls for oil stocks, miners and banks more than offset gains for exporters such as Imperial Brands and Diageo, which profited from a further slide in the pound against the dollar.

Luxury brand Burberry rose another 3 per cent and scaled a record high following a slew of rating upgrades, a day after posting its biggest one-day gain thanks to robust first-quarter sales.

Premier Foods fell more than 1 per cent despite the Oxo, Bisto and Mr Kipling cake maker reporting a rise in sales and positive outlook for the second half of the year. However, the expanding Hotel Chocolat group rose 2.1 per cent after its upbeat trading update.


The pan-European Stoxx 600 index ended 0.4 per cent lower. The trade-sensitive German Dax declined 0.7 per cent, while the French Cac 40 dropped almost 0.8 per cent.

Swiss stocks were a bright spot with shares in Swatch jumping 6 per cent, its strongest performance in more than six years after the watchmaker issued a positive outlook for its biggest markets.

Dutch chipmaker ASML also rose 5.2 per cent after it reported better-than-expected quarterly results and kept to its forecast of solid growth for the rest of the year.

The banking sector fell 1.5 per cent, led by Swedish banks. Handelsbanken fell on poor results, while Swedbank slipped after cutting its shareholder payout policy.

Ericsson fell about 12 per cent after warning costs related to winning new contracts for its network business would hit profit margins later this year.


Wall Street stocks fluctuated as investors assessed mixed corporate earnings amid fresh trade tension.

Bank of America advanced as gains in the retail division helped drive overall profit to a record, while its trading unit saw a 10 per cent drop in revenue.

Shares of Levi Strauss sank as much as 6.6 per cent to the lowest level since its March initial public offering after analysts at Goldman Sachs issued the first "sell" rating on the company.

Netflix, which was due to post quarterly earnings after the close of markets, was little changed in early trading. – Additional reporting: Reuters/Bloomberg