Sanofi and hopes for US-China trade talks help markets
European shares fall again with retailer Ted Baker in crisis after departures and warning
French pharma group Sanofi posted its best day in three years after announcing revamped margin goals a narrower drug focus. Photograph: Philippe Wojazer/Reuters
European shares fell for a second day running on Tuesday, but a 6 per cent jump in drugmaker Sanofi and a report that US and Chinese officials are planning to delay tariffs helped them end off session lows.
US stocks gave up gains to trade nearly flat in a choppy session.
The Iseq tracked its European peers, falling by about 0.3 per cent. The top performer was green infrastructure company, Greencoat Renewables, which announced on Tuesday morning that it had raised €125 million in a share placing. The stock finished the session up 4.3 per cent to €1.21.
Insurer FBD was a major faller, down 5.5 per cent to €8.30 per share. The industry is currently the focus of a fierce debate over who is to blame for so-called “compensation culture”.
Ryanair’s share price appears to be relatively unaffected by the ongoing personnel case in the High Court involving its senior executives. It finished down just 0.7 per cent to €14.
Some stocks exposed to global economic conditions performed well, including insulation giant Kingspan, which finished up 2.1 per cent to €51.30.
The blue-chip FTSE 100 index had slid as much as 1.3 per cent, weighed down by a more than 6 per cent drop in Ashtead after the industrial firm warned of challenging conditions in the UK. The bourse subsequently recouped a bulk of those losses to end 0.3 per cent lower.
Fashion retailer Ted Baker plunged as much as 36 per cent, to levels not seen since 2003, after the sudden exit of its chief executive and chairman as it issued a second profit warning in two months and suspended its dividend. The retailer is bracing for its worst annual performance since its 1997 listing.
Some of the UK’s biggest retailers dragged on the index after data showed total grocery sales growth slowed in the 12 weeks to December 1st. Morrisons dropped 3 per cent and Sainsbury’s declined by 1.4 per cent.
Engine maker Rolls-Royce fell 3.3 per cent after the resignation of Bradley Singer, a representative of its largest shareholder, the activist investor ValueAct Capital.
Tullow Oil outperformed the mid-caps as it rebounded 14.3 per cent, a day after plunging 70 per cent following the exit of its CEO and dividend suspension.
The pan-regional STOXX 600 index closed down 0.3 per cent, recovering from a fall of up to 1.2 per cent earlier in the day. Frankfurt’s trade-sensitive DAX fell 0.3 per cent, while export-reliant mining and autos sectors shed around half a percent each.
A 7.4 per cent slide in French car parts maker Valeo after its mid-term targets disappointed investors led losses in the auto sector.
Consumer stocks, including some food and beverage makers, and financials were among other big decliners. Defensive plays such as real estate, utilities and healthcare stocks gained.
Sanofi posted its best day in three years after the firm revamped its margin goals and announced a narrower drug focus. Sanofi’s rally helped overcome losses on the French index, while a rally in utility shares helped Italian stocks outperform, up 0.7 per cent.
The three main indices were nudged higher earlier in the day after the Wall Street Journal reported that the US and China were planning to delay tariffs and that officials from both sides hinted at extending their trade talks.
Apple, shares of which are often sensitive to news on trade, gained 1 per cent. The broader S&P 500 technology sector rose 0.3 per cent. The communication services sector slipped, weighed down by Netflix’s 1.4 per cent fall after Needham downgraded the company’s shares to “underperform”.
Shares in Autozone jumped 7 per cent after the auto parts retailer beat quarterly estimates for profit. Shares of Advance Auto Parts and O’Reilly Automotive also rose.
(Additional reporting: Reuters)