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Europe: Shares on track for worst quarter since 2011
[LONDON] European shares closed lower for a second day on Friday as weak European and Chinese data renewed worries about global growth and sent a pan-European benchmark on course for its worst quarter since 2011.
The euro zone Stoxx 600 index ended the day down 0.72 per cent and on course for a 9.5 per cent loss on the quarter.
As the bell rang, Wall Street indexes were sharply lower as the growth angst added to nerves about US-China trade talks.
A summit in Brussels where European Union leaders told British Prime Minister Theresa May they would not be renegotiating the Brexit agreement did little to lift the mood.
Sterling was down O.75 per cent and British blue chips and midcaps lost 0.65 per cent and 0.86 per cent respectively.
Investors shunned equities after data showed China's November retail sales grew at the weakest pace since 2003 and industrial output rose the least in nearly three years as domestic demand softened further.
Borrowing costs in the euro area fell as the weak Chinese data added to Euro zone businesses ending 2018 in a gloomy mood, expanding their operations at the slowest pace in over four years.
Adding to the poor sentiment, the European Central Bank cut forecasts for economic growth and inflation on Thursday.
"It looks like the seasonal rally has been put back again, with slowing growth figures from around the globe turning investors cautious once again", commented IG analyst Chris Beauchamp.
The carmaker and auto supplier sector was down 1.44 per cent, the biggest loser. A drop in European car sales last month deepened worries about slowing demand following the introduction of tougher new emissions tests.
The luxury sector was also in focus after Hennessey, Moet and Louis Vuitton owner LVMH announced plans to buy boutique hotel group Belmond in a deal worth US$3.2 billion.
While the deal will shore up its niche hospitality business, analysts questioned whether it will be a significant boost to earnings. LVMH ended the day down 1.5 per cent.
M&A dominated other headlines too. German online classifieds company Scout24 jumped 13.6 per cent, topping the Stoxx 600 leader board after the FT reported it was exploring a sale that could see it taken out of the market in one of the country's largest leveraged buyouts in years.
GVC Holdings hit the jackpot ahead of a UK parliamentary vote on legislation next week that Citi analysts say will remove a risk of a major cash outlay to former Ladbrokes shareholders.
The stock was up 9 per cent, the top gainer on the FTSE 100.