European shares slip as inflation debate keeps bears on prowl

Signs of rising inflation fan fears of tightening monetary policy

Photograph: iStock

Photograph: iStock

 

European shares gave up early gains on Tuesday, with growth-linked technology and healthcare stocks leading declines, as signs of rising inflation fanned fears of a sooner-than-expected tightening in global monetary policies.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 was down 0.1 per cent by 0748 GMT, with the technology and healthcare indexes falling more than 0.5 per cent.

The stocks had led Europe’s recovery from a coronavirus-induced crash last year, but investors have this year swapped them for economically sensitive sectors including banks, industrials and miners, with signals that the US Federal Reserve could soon begin raising interest rates.

Focus this week will be on a slew of Fed speakers, beginning with chair Jerome Powell, who is due to speak before the US Congress on Tuesday at 1800 GMT.

“If Powell is among the members believing that monetary policy normalisation should start in the months to come, equities and other risk-linked assets are likely to pull back again,” said Charalambos Pissouros, senior market analyst at JFD Group.

After logging its worst week in four months on Friday, the pan-European Stoxx 600 took a breather on Monday following comments from European Central Bank president Christine Lagarde that the euro zone and the United States were “in a different situation” regarding inflation.

Still, investors this week will look to a spate of macroeconomic data from across the euro zone, beginning with a flash reading of the bloc’s consumer confidence data for June at 1400 GMT.

Europe’s volatility index was down at 19.17 after hitting a one-month high of 22.99 on Monday.

Oil gains

Oil and gas, real estate and travel-related stocks were among the biggest gainers in morning trading.

Axa rose 0.2 per cent after the French insurer said it would sell its insurance businesses in Malaysia to Italian rival Generali for about €140 million ($167 million). Generali’s shares were flat.

Italian challenger bank Illimity rose 0.5 per cent as it said it expected to roughly double its net income in the next two years following a strategic partnership with ION, a privately-owned financial data and technology group.

French healthcare group Sanofi fell 1.0 per cent even as it said the company and its US partner Translate Bio had started a Phase I clinical trial evaluating an mRNA-based investigational vaccine against seasonal influenza. – Reuters