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Europe: Tariff threats and earnings disappointments dent shares

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[LONDON] A selloff in European shares extended on Thursday with Germany's DAX taking the brunt of anxieties over trade tensions, while results from industrial group Siemens disappointed but Europe's biggest asset manager, Amundi, impressed the market.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 fell 0.8 per cent to a one-week low as investors sold risky assets on President Donald Trump's threat to increase US tariffs on Chinese imports.

Germany's top index, the most sensitive to trade, dropped 1.5 per cent as heavyweights like Siemens tumbled.

"Stocks which disappoint are being penalised by the market, but I think beyond actual earnings delivery, the market is concerned about tariff uncertainty," said Emmanuel Cau, head of European equity strategy at Barclays.

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Siemens, which makes everything from turbines to trains, fell 4.7 per cent after reporting lower than expected revenues, though its profit slightly beat expectations.

Analysts and traders said the fall was probably due to concerns over the new "Vision 2020+" strategy and disappointment that the company did not increase its earnings forecasts.

The autos sector, which has suffered in recent weeks from the US threats to impose more tariffs, fell 1 per cent.

BMW outperformed, ending down 0.4 per cent, after it reported a smaller-than-expected 6 per cent decline in second quarter operating profit. It also brushed off concerns about new anti-pollution rules and global trade tensions which caused rival Daimler to warn on profits.

Daimler fell 1.4 per cent.

Mr Cau has an "overweight" recommendation for autos, highlighting that car volumes are still going up and margins are resilient even though investors are shunning the sector due to the tariff fears.

"The sector might be a proxy to express concern about tariffs, but it is already down very significantly and you can pay very little to still buy interesting growth," he said.

France's Amundi jumped 5.4 per cent after reporting higher second-quarter profits, benefiting from an inflow of new client money. "Amundi reported a good-quality beat to consensus expectations on higher revenues and inline costs," said UBS analysts.

Shares in German retailer Metro rose 9.7 per cent after it said steps to stabilise its shrinking Russian business are starting to pay off.

Many more stocks were punished for disappointing results.

Shares in Altice Europe, the debt-ridden telecoms and cable group, sank 16.3 per cent after reporting that margins suffered when it pushed on with aggressive promotions in France in the second quarter.

Hugo Boss shares fell 7.8 per cent after earnings missed forecasts. "The 2 percent EBITDA miss is likely to be taken negatively in light of concerns that Hugo Boss' strong underlying retail performance is not translating to an improvement in margins," said Berenberg analysts.

Overall companies in the MSCI Europe index have so far reported year-on-year earnings growth of 8.2 per cent for the second quarter. European earnings growth pales in comparison with that delivered by US firms, however.

Bringing up the rear among European stocks was Swiss asset manager GAM, sinking 14.9 per cent - taking its losses since Tuesday to 26 per cent.

An investor exodus after it decided to suspend a director forced the firm to halt dealing in some bond funds.

"The suspension of client dealings in absolute return bond funds increases the likelihood of a bear case scenario for AuM (assets under management) loss," said Baader Helvea analysts.

REUTERS