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Europe: Shares dip on disappointing earnings, growth worries


[BENGALURU] European shares slipped on Thursday as weak earnings from Nokia and news of failed attempts at mergers added to a downbeat mood on renewed fears of a slowdown in global growth.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 index finished 0.2 per cent lower after an eight-session rally in the benchmark index stalled on Wednesday.

"The sizes of losses seem to be driven primarily by domestic news," said Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at Oanda in London, pointing also to some profit-taking and softer earnings.

Most major country indexes in the region ended significantly lower, with London's FTSE 100 down 0.5 per cent while Frankfurt's DAX broke a nine-session winning streak with a 0.25 per cent decline.

But not all earnings were bad. Stocks in Madrid and Zurich got a headwind from strong earnings at wind energy producer Iberdrola and lender UBS, respectively.

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Reigniting growth fears, data showed the South Korean economy unexpectedly contracted in the first quarter, while Chinese officials warned of protracted pressure on growth, a day after disappointing German Ifo sentiment survey exacerbated concerns about the euro zone's economic outlook.

Finnish telecom network equipment Nokia was the biggest drag on Stoxx 600, sliding 9 per cent and logging its sharpest decline in 18 months, after reporting a surprise quarterly loss.

Nokia's fall knocked the tech index 0.7 per cent lower following the previous day's 4 per cent surge.

Sainsbury's slump after Britain's competition regulator blocked its proposed 7.3 billion pound (S$12.8 billion) takeover of Walmart-owned Asda, and homebuilder Taylor Wimpey's warning on lower full-year margins, weighed on London's FTSE.

The banking index shed 0.6 per cent, weighed down by Barclays and Swedbank shares.

Britain's Barclays slipped after reporting a 10 per cent drop in quarterly profit, as its under-pressure investment bank struggled with tough markets.

Swedbank fell after posting an estimate-beating first-quarter profit as the Swedish lender admitted to previous shortcomings in combating money laundering.

However losses were tempered by Switzerland's biggest bank UBS advancing after its first-quarter results surpassed analyst expectations, a day after smaller rival Credit Suisse also posted strong results.

The gains helped Swiss shares buck the gloom and close 0.4 per cent higher. Meanwhile, wind energy producer Iberdrola's 4.3 per cent jump after it raised its 2019 guidance for net profit and dividend growth, helped Spanish stocks outperform.

"Equity markets are very much driven by the earnings season and as there are mixed numbers are coming in, investors are taking a little bit of cautious approach," Naeem Aslam, chief market analyst at TF Global Markets (UK) Ltd in London.

Shares of Swiss drugmaker Novartis was the biggest boost to the pan-region index, after Guggenheim upgraded the stock, while many other brokerages raise price target after the drugmaker posted higher first-quarter profit and raised 2019 profit target.

German heavyweight Bayer rose after the drug and farming supplies company posted a 45 per cent gain in quarterly core earnings on the back of seed maker Monsanto's acquisition.

Semiconductor maker ASM soared about 10 per cent after beating first-quarter targets, while Germany's Dialog Semiconductor rose more than 2.5 per cent after forecasting higher than anticipated profits in the first quarter.

In the wake of the failed merger talks between Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank, a deal that had faced fierce opposition from the workforce, Deutsche shares dipped 1.5 per cent while Commerzbank slipped 2.3 per cent.


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