European stocks slipped from near record highs on Wednesday, with miners leading losses after concerns over China hit metal prices, while mixed corporate earnings reports and an upcoming central bank meeting kept investors on edge.
The Iseq declined 1 per cent, underperforming the major European indices. The main stock news of the day came courtesy of Kerry, which closed down 0.3 per cent at €116.95 after it reported strong volume growth for the nine months to the end of September and a 6.3 per cent rise in third-quarter revenue. The food group left its full-year outlook unchanged.
Elsewhere, financial stocks declined, with AIB closing down 2.2 per cent at €2.32 and Bank of Ireland slipping 2.8 per cent to €5.10.
Ryanair was another key faller, dropping 1.5 per cent to €16, while building materials group CRH contained its loss to 0.5 per cent, ending at €41.39. In a lacklustre session for many stocks, Smurfit Kappa was one of the few climbers, adding 0.6 per cent to €44.75.
The FTSE 100 fell 0.3 per cent and mid-cap stocks gained ground after British finance minister Rishi Sunak forecast faster growth and lower borrowing as the economy bounces back from the pandemic.
The FTSE 250 index inched up 0.1 per cent, led by pub operators J D Wetherspoon, Mitchells & Butlers and City Pub Group rose between 1.5 per cent and 5.9 per cent after Mr Sunak scrapped a planned increase in duty on alcohol and simplified taxes.
Overall market moves were limited as the chancellor used his half-yearly budget statement to announce multibillion-pound investments, but forecasters said the government’s tax take was on course to be its biggest since the 1950s.
GlaxoSmithKline rose 0.5 per cent after the pharmaceutical company lifted its annual profit forecast following strong third-quarter results.
Harry Potter publisher Bloomsbury Publishing increased its dividend after reporting a strong rise in half-year revenue and profit, pushing its stock up 4.3 per cent.
Miners Glencore, Rio Tinto and Anglo American fell between 1.5 per cent and 2.3 per cent, while weaker crude prices hit oil majors BP and Royal Dutch Shell. Precious-metals miner Fresnillo slipped 3.5 per cent after reporting a fall in gold and silver production for the quarter.
The pan-European Stoxx 600 closed 0.4 per cent lower at 474.04 points after coming close to a record high on Tuesday. In Frankfurt, the Dax declined 0.3 per cent, while in Paris, the Cac 40 finished 0.2 per cent lower.
A mixed batch of earnings weighed on sentiment, with Deutsche Bank down 6.9 per cent despite posting a better-than-expected quarterly profit, as investors questioned the bank's reliance on volatile money spinners.
French payments firm Worldline dropped 15.9 per cent on disappointing results and guidance.
Among the day's gainers, French household equipment maker SEB jumped 12.4 per cent to the top of the Stoxx 600 after posting better-than-expected third-quarter results.
Electrical equipment maker Schneider Electric rose 2.4 per cent after it reported better-than-expected quarterly revenue growth, while Germany's Puma added 3.6 per cent after hiking its 2021 sales outlook even as it cautioned on supply chain issues.
The tech-heavy Nasdaq rose in early trading after a robust forecast from Microsoft supported optimism about the third-quarter earnings season, while a decline in oil prices hurt shares of energy companies.
Microsoft gained 3.9 per cent to hit a record high after it guided a strong end to the calendar year, helped by its booming cloud business. Google-owner Alphabet jumped 5.5 per cent after reporting a record quarterly profit on a surge in ad sales. Their shares, coupled with other mega-cap growth names Amazon. com and Tesla, provided the biggest boost to the Nasdaq index.
Robinhood Markets tumbled 9.4 per cent after the retail broker reported downbeat third-quarter revenue as trading levels declined for cryptocurrencies including dogecoin. – Additional reporting: Reuters