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European shares fall amid US-China trade concerns, despite NAFTA optimism

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European shares are lower around midday Thursday, as a Reuters survey highlights a slowdown in Chinese factory output amid ongoing US-China trade concerns. That news dampened investor sentiment, despite optimism amid the current NAFTA trade discussions between the US, Mexico and Canada.

By 1155 BST, the EUROSTOXX 600 was 0.33% lower, while the EUROSTOXX 50 lost 0.43%. Regional bourses were also in the red. The German DAX fell 0.45%, the French CAC declined 0.23% and the Spanish IBEX was 0.67% in negative territory.

US-China trade worries return

European markets are weaker Thursday, as investors turn their eyes to news suggesting US-China trade fears are far from over. A Reuters poll suggests activity in Chinese factories slowed for a third straight month in August. The decline is likely due to concerns over future US demand for its goods.

That development has brought the ongoing US-China trade tensions back to the fore, for investors. That’s despite news that NAFTA trade talks are proceeding on a positive footing, with attendees seemingly optimistic the talks will meet the Friday deadline.

Stock movers

Against that mixed trade-related backdrop, there were some notable individual stock movers, Thursday morning.

French conglomerate Bouygues shares gained ground after reporting a 4% increase in first half sales compared with a year earlier. And, thanks to upbeat expectations for its Telecoms arm, the French group retained its full year outlook for improved profitability.

Bouygues shares rose 4.50% to hit €39.04.

GAM shares, meanwhile, moved strongly in the opposite direction, sinking 10.15% to CHF7.34.

The Swiss asset-manager lost further ground Thursday following news that Credit Suisse had slashed its price target for the firm.

Credit Suisse halved its GAM price target from CHF14 to CHF7, amid “major unknowns”.

“Whilst it is hard to have a high degree of confidence as to what individual institutional clients will decide to do with their portfolios, we think it is prudent to assume that the significant disruption to the ARBF franchise will result in 100% of this AUM being redeemed,” Credit Suisse analysts Tom Mills and Martin Price said in a note to clients advising them of their action.

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