European stock markets decline on renewed lockdown fears
Tech shares fall on Wall Street, while mining and energy stocks drop in London
The tech-heavy Nasdaq led Wall Street lower on Thursday. Photograph: Angela Weiss /AFP
European stocks ended lower on Thursday as fears over extended coronavirus restrictions in the euro zone sparked a flight from energy and financial stocks to firms seen as safer during heightened economic uncertainty.
The technology-heavy Nasdaq led Wall Street lower in early trading as the rotation out of richly valued stocks into underpriced sectors added to pressure from quarter-end rebalancing by institutional investors.
The Iseq index rose marginally, a little over 0.1 per cent.
Irish banks appeared to buck the trend across Europe that resulted in heavy selling of financial institutions’ stocks. Bank of Ireland finished the session ahead by 1.35 per cent to €4.20, while AIB was up just under 0.4 per cent to €2.16 per share. It came against the backdrop of a €37.8 million fine that was levied by regulators on their outgoing rival Ulster Bank.
Tullow Oil fell more than 16 per cent to about 50 cent per share as crude prices continued to fall globally.
Kerry Group rose 1.6 per cent to €106.70. Three of its most senior executives were awarded €2.2 million worth of shares this week after it hit targets under an incentive scheme.
The FTSE 100 ended lower on a slide in energy and mining stocks. The blue-chip index ended 0.6 per cent down, with oil heavyweights BP and Royal Dutch Shell falling 2.6 per cent and 2.9 per cent respectively, weighed by weaker crude prices.
Miners including Rio Tinto, Anglo American, Glencore and BHP were among the biggest drags, falling between 1.3 per cent and 3.9 per cent.
Rio Tinto fell 1.3 per cent after the largest minority shareholder in Mongolian copper project Oyu Tolgoi filed a class action lawsuit in New York, claiming the company concealed massive cost overruns and delays.
The domestically focused mid-cap FTSE 250 fell 0.6 per cent, weighed down by consumer discretionary stocks.
Cineworld fell 7.6 per cent to the bottom of the mid-cap index after saying it plans to ask shareholders to approve a raise in its debt ceiling next month to allow it to borrow more money to shore up its shattered finances, following a $3 billion loss in 2020.
The pan-European STOXX 600 index slipped 0.3 per cent, weighed down by a drop in oil and gas stocks on the back of weaker crude prices, and bank stocks as bond yields declined.
Germany’s DAX ended marginally higher on a boost from auto stocks led by Volkswagen after the company forecast 2021 results would match the previous year’s level. Earlier in the session the DAX had fallen as much as 1.3 per cent as the number of coronavirus cases in the country saw the biggest increase since January 9th.
H&M dropped 1.6 per cent after at least one Chinese online retailer appeared to drop its products following social media attacks on the Swedish company for saying it was “deeply concerned” about reports of forced labour in Xinjiang in China.
German sportswear firm Adidas, which also came under fire in China, fell 6 per cent.
Seven of the 11 S&P sectors fell, led by the communication services and technology indexes.
Heavyweight technology stocks Facebook, Google parent Alphabet and Twitter slipped about 1 per cent ahead of their chief executives’ testimony before Congress about extremism and misinformation on their services.
Energy stocks shed 1 per cent, tracking lower crude prices. Utilities, consumer staples and real estate stocks – perceived as safer during times of economic uncertainty – were among the few gainers on the day.
Shares of Nike fell 4.4 per cent as the sporting goods giant faced a Chinese social media backlash over its comments about reports of forced labour in Xinjiang.
Darden Restaurants added 4.3 per cent after it announced a new share buyback plan and forecast upbeat fourth-quarter revenue and profit.
– Additional reporting: Reuters