European shares little changed amid steel tariff imposition, weak German data

on Mar 9, 2018

European shares are lacklustre in the early afternoon Friday, as investors digest news that US President Trump's steel tariffs will be put into place within weeks.

Meanwhile, disappointing German economic data also weighed on investor sentiment, as the market looks to the US jobs report due this afternoon.

By 1250 BST, the EUROSTOXX 600 was 0.04% higher, while the EUROSTOXX 50 was 0.11% lower. The German DAX was off 0.40%, while the French CAC and Spanish IBEX were both barely changed, down just 0.01%.

Cautious investor tone

News that the US steel and aluminium tariffs – that sparked a broader trade row – will be put in place soon, held back investor activity, as companies consider the overall impact the move will have.

Even for metals producers for whom the US isn’t their major market, the imports will likely encourage them to raise their prices, making it more expensive for US manufacturers to purchase.

Sticking with the manufacturing theme, the latest German data shows that factory orders fell 0.1% in January. Meanwhile, separate figures calculated German exports fell 0.5%.

The figures likely contributed to the steeper decline among German listed stocks, than among the other regional bourses, Friday.

Investors are also a little subdued ahead of the latest US jobs and earnings reports due shortly. The data are considered a strong indicator of the health of the US economy.

Many eyes will be on the wage data published in the report, as signs of an increase could raise confidence among US Federal Reserve members to hikes rates more quickly during 2018.

Stock movers

Amid that backdrop, there have been some notable stock movers in the final session of this week.

Media group Lagardere shares sank 8.48% to €22.02 after reporting disappointing earnings for 2017.

Inmarsat shares were 5.77% lower at £437.15, after the British satellite firm announced a lower dividend for 2018.

In addition, Arcelor Mittal shares lost 1.07% to trade at €26.28, likely on fears over the US steel tariff news.