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Europe: Shares stage weak recovery as oil price slumps

Tuesday, December 8, 2015 - 07:16
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European shares inched higher on Friday, signalling a possible stabilisation from this week's earlier sell-off as Chinese stocks rose after the country's circuit breaker mechanism was axed to calm investor sentiment.

[LONDON] European shares saw weak gains on Monday as the price of crude neared 7-year lows, pulling down oil shares, and Electrolux's share price slumped after its deal to buy General Electric's appliance business fell through.

Oil prices fell after an OPEC policy meeting on Friday ended without an agreement to lower production.

Repsol, Royal Dutch Shell, BP and Statoil lost between 2.9 and 5.6 per cent. "One of the things on my mind at the moment is oil, and the lack of results from Opec on Friday. Oil prices may be lower for longer, and that's ... going to be challenging for the energy area of the market," said Adam Laird, head of passive investments at Hargreaves Lansdown.

The biggest faller was Electrolux, however. It plummeted 13.4 per cent after General Electric terminated their US$3.3 billion agreement, which the US Department of Justice had asked a federal court to stop in July on concern that it would push up prices for consumers.

The FTSEurofirst 300 index was up 0.4 per cent at 1,464.04 points at its close, reversing the losses recorded last week after the European Central Bank announced its latest stimulus package, which disappointed investors who had expected more extensive measures.

Among the top gainers, aerospace group Airbus rose nearly 3 per cent after its orders surpassed 1,000.

Property company Vonovia rose 3.4 per cent after Germany's cartel office approved its planned 14 billion-euro (S$21.3 billion) hostile bid for its smaller peer Deutsche Wohnen , which rallied 3.7 per cent.

Markets also benefited on Monday from a weaker euro. The currency fell against the dollar after US jobs data on Friday increased the chances that US interest rates will rise this month. A weaker euro helps stocks by making European exports cheaper and competing imports more expensive.

JP Morgan Cazenove's equity strategist Mislav Matejka expected stocks to recover from last week's ECB disappointment, pointing to signs of economic recovery in Europe and expectations that investors would welcome a US rate rise.

However, he added that selling on rallies for a profit might be a good tactic in the future.

"The markets took the latest ECB easing negatively, demonstrating how elevated expectations have become. Still, we think that equities will regain their footing around the turn of the year, given favourable seasonals, stabilising China, robust euro zone and US activity, and the first Fed hike should be taken positively," he said.

"Further out, we believe that the structural 'overweight'equity stance that we had for all these years is not appropriate any more. The phase of selling any rallies might be upon us."

REUTERS