European stocks end mostly lower
European stock markets turned in mixed results yesterday as investors booked profits following three days of gains, though the scandal-hit bank Standard Chartered rebounded from heavy losses.
Market sentiment was fairly subdued however as traders looked ahead to the release of Chinese data today, including inflation and industrial production.
The mood was also somewhat gloomy after Standard & Poor’s cut Greece’s sovereign debt rating outlook to negative.
London’s benchmark FTSE 100 index of top companies managed to add a slight 0.08 per cent to 5,845.92 points despite the Bank of England lowering its forecast for growth this year to near to zero.
Frankfurt’s DAX 30 slipped by slighter 0.03 per cent to 6,966.15 points amid disappointing data, while in Paris the CAC 40 gave up 0.43 per cent to 3,438.26 amid a forecast from the central bank the country would likely enter a recession.
Madrid shed 0.84 per cent, as Milan gained 0.07 per cent.
The string of steady increases on European markets eased back “as investors consolidated gains following three consecutive sessions of strong rallies,” ETX Capital analyst Ishaq Siddiqi noted.
In foreign exchange trade, the European single currency dipped to $1.2373 from $1.2401 late in New York on Tuesday.
“Traders seem largely content to sit on their hands right now, at least until we see that array of data ... from China,” said GFT Markets analyst Fawad Razaqzada.
Mr Siddiqi added that “the summer season is in full swing with the focus shifting to the US session to provide some direction.”
In New York, US stock markets fell as trading got underway but turned slightly positive in midday trading.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 0.20 per cent to 13,194.33 points.
The tech-rich Nasdaq rose by 0.06 per cent at 3,017.54, while the S&P 500-stock index gained 0.12 per cent to 1,403.09.
Back in London, “the reality is that the problems in Europe haven’t gone away – ING (bank) has taken a big hit on Spanish exposure in today’s results – so unless we see more really decent fundamentals coming out of the US and Asia, then it’s going to be hugely difficult to justify much more on the upside,” Mr Razaqzada said.
Dutch banking giant ING said its second quarter net profit slumped 22.3 per cent year-on-year to 1.17 billion, as it took a large hit on its exposure to debt-plagued Spain.
ING booked a loss of €178 million on the sale of risk assets, mainly its holdings of Spanish government bonds.
In reaction, ING’s share price slid 1.27 per cent to €5.68 on the Amsterdam stock market, which was 0.68 per cent lower.
Overnight, Standard & Poor’s had cut Greece’s debt rating out-look to negative, saying the worsening economy and political challenges could soon force another downgrade.
“In Europe, the debt crisis appears to be rumbling along with still no end in sight,” said Michael Hewson, analyst at CMC Markets trading group. Standard Chartered shares meanwhile rebounded Wednesday, recouping some of the previous day’s losses.