European shares tumble as business activity growth slows

on Mar 22, 2018

European shares are in negative territory Thursday afternoon, as the latest IHS Markit PMI survey disappoints investors. The market is also uncertain ahead of US President Trump’s address later Thursday, when he is expected to announce trade import tariffs for China.

By 1420 BST, the EUROSTOXX 600 was 1.55% lower, while the EUROSTOXX 50 was 1.79% in the red. Regional bourses were equally downbeat. The German DAX fell 1.75%, the French CAC was off 1.72% while the Spanish IBEX was down some 1.55%.

Euro Zone PMI growth slows

The preliminary reading of the euro zone purchasing managers index for March came in below market expectations, earlier Thursday.

IHS Markit who compiles the data, said the composite PMI reading fell to 55.3 in March, down from 57.1 in February. That was the lowest level since January 2017.

While the bad weather was partly to blame for the decline, a slump in new orders was also significant.

In addition, the markets are cautious as Trump prepares to announce his China trade tariffs at 1630 BST. It is anticipated that tariff charges of up to $60 billion will be signed off.

Stock moves

Against that backdrop, there were numerous stock fallers across the European stock markets Thursday.

Bank stocks lost ground in the wake of less hawkish than expected comments from the US Fed, Wednesday. Meanwhile, the Bank of England confirmed that any rate hikes would be slow and gradual.

HSBC shares were 2.29% lower at £678.09, Banco Santander shares lost 2.08% to trade at £453.26, while UBS shares slid 2.49% to CHF16.87.

Tech stocks were also in the red, weighed down by the ongoing data breach scandal at Facebook along with the broader weaker sentiment.

Shares in chipmaker AMS AG dropped 3.34% to hit CHF111.50, Infineon Technologies shares were 2.33% lower at €22.59 and STMicro shares lost 3.88% to trade at €19.57.