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Europe: Financials weigh on stocks as "Trumpflation" hopes fade

[LONDON] Financial shares weighed on European indexes on Wednesday amid doubts over US tax reform plans and the "Trumpflation" trade and concerns over some European lenders' earnings and over non-performing loans in Italy.

"Trumpflation" refers to bets on rising rates, inflation and stock prices made after Donald Trump won the US presidential election a year ago this week.

"In reality what we have seen in the last 12 months is plenty of evidence of backlash against globalisation, hostility and controversy, but very little in the way of fiscal policy", Deutsche Bank analysts said in a research note.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 dipped 0.1 per cent as the indexes of financial services and banks fell 0.4 per cent and 0.2 per cent respectively, in line with a similar trend in early trading on Wall Street.

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Bond market movements were also pushing banks down, with a global yield curve flattening phenomenon spreading.

"Ten-year yields have been sliding back again; that's going in the wrong direction for banks," said DNB strategist Paul Harper.

The Italian banking sector and the issue of non-performing loans were also on investors' minds.

Creval's move to raise cash in order to shed bad debts prompted investors to dump the shares of the lender's domestic peers on concerns they may also need fresh capital.

Shares in Creval plunged 30 per cent following the announcement of the share issue. Banco BPM, Italy's third-largest bank, and BPER Banca fell 7.5 per cent and 4.4 per cent respectively.

Also weighing was French bank Credit Agricole, which said weak trading had dented third-quarter profits, sending its shares down 3.6 per cent at the close.

However, earnings from France's Natixis and OneSavings Bank pushed their shares up 2.3 per cent and 2.9 per cent respectively.

"We continue to regard OneSavings as an outstanding, low-risk, buy-to-let-led business, which (for us) remains too cheap," said Investec's Ian Gordon.

Analysts have turned negative on euro zone bank earnings after upgrading expectations for much of the past year as sentiment improved thanks to a recovering economy, Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S data showed.

The automobile sector was also a drag on Wednesday's trade and closed down 1.3 per cent. Volkswagen retreated 2.2 per cent after a parliamentary committee said it had yet to fix one in three of the 1.2 million cars affected by the diesel emissions scandal in Britain.

Elsewhere earnings publications triggered sharp moves.

Danish pharmaceutical firm Lundbeck fell 7.3 per cent as sales of its newer drugs, such as those to treat bipolar disorder and depression, undershot market expectations.

French gaming company Ubisoft touched a fresh record high after it beat its second-quarter sales target, boosting its shares by 9.2 per cent to lead gainers.

Dutch supermarket chain Ahold Delhaize jumped 5.1 per cent after profits beat forecasts and it announced a larger share buyback.

With two-thirds of the earnings season over, Bernstein analysts described companies' results overall as solid, adding that market sentiment had grown more subdued, which would help support equities.

Third-quarter earnings for MSCI Europe are tracking 5.6 per cent growth in euro terms, according to the latest Thomson Reuters data. This rises to 7.1 per cent when looking at MSCI EMU.

"The rate of growth is supporting a turnaround in earnings per share in Europe; that's why we are overweight European stocks," said Francois Savary, chief investment officer at wealth manager Prime Partners.