AFP – Europe’s main stock markets fell on Wednesday as investors locked in profits following three days of gains, though the scandal-hit bank Standard Chartered bounced back from heavy losses in London.
Markets were muted as traders looked ahead to the release of Chinese data on Thursday including inflation and industrial production.
Sentiment was also hit after Standard & Poor’s cut Greece’s debt rating outlook to negative.
In late afternoon deals, London’s benchmark FTSE 100 index of top companies dropped 0.43 percent to 5,816.08 points as British investors digested the latest economic growth and inflation forecasts from the Bank of England.
Frankfurt’s DAX 30 slid 0.57 percent to 6,928.04 points and in Paris the CAC 40 reversed 0.71 percent to 3,428.72. Madrid shed 1.52 percent and Milan lost 0.66 percent.
The markets fell off of four-month highs “as investors consolidate gains following three consecutive sessions of strong rallies,” ETX Capital analyst Ishaq Siddiqi noted.
In foreign exchange trade, the European single currency dipped to $1.2339 from $1.2401 late in New York on Tuesday.
“Traders seem largely content to sit on their hands right now, at least until we see that array of data … from China,” said GFT Markets analyst Fawad Razaqzada.
In New York, US stock markets fell as trading got underway, as mixed company news highlighted weakness in the US and global economies.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average tumbled 0.40 percent to 13,115.85 points in the first five minutes of trade.
The tech-rich Nasdaq shed 0.41 percent at 3,003.46, while the S&P 500-stock index dropped 0.36 percent to 1,396.26.
Back in London, “the reality is that the problems in Europe haven’t gone away — ING (bank) has taken a big hit on Spanish exposure in today’s results — so unless we see more really decent fundamentals coming out of the US and Asia, then it’s going to be hugely difficult to justify much more on the upside,” Razaqzada said.
Dutch banking giant ING said its second quarter net profit slumped 22.3 percent year-on-year to 1.17 billion euros, as it took a large hit on its exposure to debt-plagued Spain.
ING booked a loss of 178 million euros on the sale of risk assets, mainly its holdings of Spanish government bonds.
In reaction, ING’s share price slid 1.98 percent to 5.639 euros on the Amsterdam stock market, which was 1.04 percent lower.
Overnight meanwhile, Standard & Poor’s cut Greece’s debt rating outlook to negative, saying the worsening economy and political challenges could soon force another downgrade.
“In Europe, the debt crisis appears to be rumbling along with still no end in sight,” said Michael Hewson, analyst at CMC Markets trading group.
Standard Chartered shares meanwhile rebounded Wednesday, recouping some of the previous day’s losses after New York state regulators accused it of hiding $250 billion in transactions with Iranian banks.
The British lender — which focuses on Asia, the Middle East and Africa — has denied the allegations.
Standard Chartered’s share price rallied 9.44 percent to 1,344.50 pence, having slumped by almost 17 percent on Tuesday.
Rio Tinto shares rose 2.22 percent to 3,200 pence after the miner revealed that underlying earnings slipped 34 percent to US$5.2 billion in the first half of the year, a result that beat market expectations.
Asian stock markets mostly closed higher amid hopes for new rounds of stimulus from the US and European central banks.
Tokyo added 0.88 percent, Seoul put on 0.87 percent, Shanghai climbed 0.16 percent and Sydney gained 0.49 percent. However, Hong Kong was flat before the raft of Chinese data.
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