European shares sank to a one-month low on Thursday, hit by underwhelming earnings reports, a dire reading of the German economy's health, and US president Donald Trump raising the possibility of delaying November's presidential election.
Risk assets across the globe sold off sharply after Mr Trump’s tweet was published, although the US constitution bestows power to delay elections on Congress.
The Iseq outperformed many of its peers on Thursday, closing down 1.3 per cent. The board was a sea of red, however, with the banks taking a beating in common with many of their European rivals. Negative mortgage drawdown figures didn't help either, with Bank of Ireland down 4.8 per cent and AIB 6 per cent lower.
Housebuilders also suffered as a result of the drawdown data, with Cairn down 3.3 per cent and Glenveagh declining by 2.9 per cent.
Iseq heavyweight CRH was another faller, down 2.6 per cent in line with other European cement manufacturers such as Buzzi, which was 3.3 per cent lower. Heidelberg Cement's decline was even sharper, down 6 per cent.
Paddy Power parent Flutter outperformed its peers, rising 1.1 per cent, as did Ryanair, which closed down 1 per cent, compared to IAG, down 2 per cent, and EasyJet, which was 3 per cent lower.
Hotels group Dalata was another big decliner. It closed the day down 3.7 per cent with low volumes traded.
Gloomy quarterly results from banks and a clutch of other firms saw the FTSE 100 post its worst session in five weeks on Thursday, while uncertainty about US elections and a collapse in economic growth in the world’s largest economy also weighed.
The blue-chip FTSE 100 ended 2.3 per cent lower on broad-based losses, with Lloyds Banking Group sliding 7.6 per cent to an eight-year low after swinging to a rare pretax loss in the first half of 2020. Standard Chartered tumbled 6.2 per cent as the lender posted a 33 per cent slump in first-half profit after a sixfold jump in credit impairment charges.
The mid-cap FTSE 250 slipped 1.3 per cent, led by a 12 per cent fall for car dealer Inchcape as impairment charges pushed it to losses.
Oil majors BP and Royal Dutch Shell lost 3.6 per cent and 5.5 per cent as crude prices fell on fears that more Covid-19 containment measures could hurt demand.
AstraZeneca rose 1.6 per cent on an upbeat second quarter and reiteration of 2020 forecasts.
The pan-European Stoxx 600 index closed 2.2 per cent lower, erasing all its gains for the month, while Germany’s Dax slumped 3.5 per cent, leading regional losses.
Spain's BBVA dropped 8.1 per cent as it reported a near 50 per cent decline in net profit. Carmakers were also sharply lower as Germany's Volkswagen unveiled a first-half operating loss and slashed its dividend, while France's Renault posted a record net loss of €7.29 billion in the first half of the year.
Among the bright spots, Anheuser-Busch InBev gained 1.4 per cent after saying it was encouraged by a global beer sales recovery in June.
US stocks fell sharply on Thursday after a second straight rise in weekly jobless claims fuelled worries about a post-pandemic economic recovery, and after president Trump floated the possibility of delaying the presidential elections.
All S&P sectors were in the red on Thursday, led by declines in economically sensitive sectors such as financials, energy and materials.
Qualcomm, United Parcel Service and Procter & Gamble gained following quarterly results, with Johnson & Johnson up slightly as it started human safety trials for its Covid-19 vaccine.
– Additional reporting: Reuters