Economic news

European Stocks Slide to 1-Month Low on China Slowdown Fears

  • Miners slump to mid-March low on China concerns
  • Eurozone volatility gauge spikes above 30
  • French stocks look past Macron election win

April 25 (Reuters) - The main European stock indexes fell more than 2% on Monday as worries about an economic slowdown in China and rapid U.S. interest rate hikes overshadowed relief from French President Emmanuel Macron's election victory over the weekend.

The continent-wide STOXX 600 index slumped 2.1% to its lowest since mid-March, with UK's FTSE 100 sliding 2.2% and Germany's DAX down 1.6%.

China-exposed sectors such as miners, oil & gas and luxury stocks were among the top decliners in Europe as fears grew that Beijing was on the verge of joining Shanghai in pandemic-related lockdowns. 

Miners dipped 5.5% to a one-month low as industrial metal prices slumped on concerns about waning demand from top metals consumer China, while oil and gas stocks dropped 3.3%.

France's CAC 40 dropped 2.4%, caught in a wider risk-off move, even as Sunday's election results showed pro-EU centrist Macron beating far-right challenger Marine Le Pen with a solid margin. 

French stocks have outperformed the wider STOXX 600 index over the past two weeks after polls put Macron in the lead, reassuring markets about France's commitment to an integrated Europe even if his economic platform now depends on parliamentary elections in June.

That followed a brief period of volatility in markets when polls showed a relatively small lead over Le Pen, who favours nationalising key industries and slashing taxes.

"What we saw these last two weeks is the repricing of Macron victory as polls have been widening. So for the market it is good news, but the impact should be relatively limited today," said Roland Kaloyan, head of European equity strategy at Societe Generale.

"The new story today is about China and the market is very worried about the impact of that on supply chains."

Defensive sectors such as utilities,food and beverage and telecom stocks, which tend to outperform at times of economic uncertainty, were the smallest decliners.

Shares of French infrastructure group Vinci gained 0.8% after a sell-off on fears the groups may be targeted for nationalisation by Le Pen. 

A gauge of eurozone stock market volatility spiked above 30 points for the first time in almost two weeks.

European markets suffered last week, taking cues from Wall Street indexes as investors priced in aggressive actions by the U.S. Federal Reserve to tame inflation, knocking rate-sensitive growth shares.

In a busy week for earnings, 144 of the STOXX 600 companies are expected to report quarterly results.

Dutch health technology company Philips plunged 11.1% to its lowest since 2016 after reporting a hit to first-quarter profit due to a global shortage of parts and a massive recall of ventilators. 

French gaming group Ubisoft jumped 10.9% after a report on Friday said the "Assassin's Creed" maker is attracting preliminary takeover interest from buyout funds.

Reporting by Sruthi Shankar and Anisha Sircar in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta

Source: Reuters

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