Europe: Shares wipe gains on hawkish remarks from ECB officials

Published Tue, Mar 7, 2023 · 06:12 AM

EUROPEAN shares bid farewell to their initial momentum on Monday after European Central Bank officials backed the need for more interest rate hikes, while investors assessed the lower-than-expected rebound in Euro zone January retail sales.

The Stoxx 600 index was flat, after last week clocking its best week since the beginning of the year.

Chief economist Philip Lane indicated more rate hikes from the ECB in coming months even amid signs of easing price pressures, while a report showed Austrian central bank Chief Robert Holzmann sees the need for 50-basis-point hikes at the central bank’s next four meetings.

On the data front, Euro zone retail sales rose 0.3 per cent month-on-month in January for a 2.3 per cent year-on-year decline, underlining the weakness of consumer demand and the broader economic slowdown.

“Consumers are definitely cautious in their spending,” said Steve Sosnick, chief strategist at Interactive Brokers.

“The technicals are good, momentum is good and this is persisting in spite of a lot of the not so positive fundamentals as one might expect given the market’s performance recently.”

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Among major movers, Deutsche Lufthansa topped the benchmark Stoxx 600 with a near 6 per cent gain after HSBC upgraded the German airline to “buy” from “hold”.

Telecom Italia (TIM) jumped 3.1 per cent after Italian state lender CDP’s board approved a non-binding offer for the fixed-line network of the former phone monopoly.

Helvetia Holding advanced 4.5 per cent after the Swiss insurance group reported a full-year earnings beat and hiked its dividend target.

A fall in miners pushed basic resources down 2.7 per cent, to the bottom of the sector indexes, as base metal prices dropped after China set an economic growth target at about 5 per cent, towards the lower end of expectations.

However, shares of luxury giant LVMH gained 1.2 per cent, helping the Stoxx 600 index.

The spotlight this week will be on Friday’s US payrolls report after a blowout number for January sent bond yields surging and led to a repricing in expectations for the Federal Reserve’s terminal policy rate.

Fed Chair Jerome Powell’s two-day testimony before Congress, starting on Tuesday, will also be in focus.

Among other stocks, Belimo Holding slid 8.9% to the bottom of the Stoxx 600 after the Swiss heating and ventilation solutions maker gave a cautious 2023 margin guidance. REUTERS

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