Technology, sportswear makers pull down European shares
By Khushi Singh and Ankika Biswas
(Reuters) -European shares inched lower on Friday, weighed down by technology and sportswear makers, while investors were on tenterhooks ahead of a crucial U.S. inflation print and markets assessed domestic data to back bets of lower interest rates next year.
The pan-European STOXX 600 index was down 0.1% by 9:25 GMT, on track for its weakest weekly performance in six.
China’s new rules to curb gaming spending spurred a 18.6% slump in Dutch tech investor Prosus, poised for its steepest one-day decline. This pulled the technology sector 1.4% lower to lead sectoral declines.
French video games developer Ubisoft also slid 6.2% to its lowest level since late March.
The personal and household goods sector lost 0.6%, as Adidas and Puma fell 6.0% and 5.7%, respectively, after U.S. peer Nike cut its annual sales forecast.
JD Sports also dropped 5.2%, with the broader retail sector losing 1.1%.
However, gains in energy and basic resources shares on higher commodity prices capped the STOXX 600’s decline.
The main focus for the day is the U.S. core PCE price index reading – the Fed’s preferred inflation metric – as investors seek clues on the global monetary policy cycle.
The STOXX 600 is set to wrap up 2023 with a 12% jump, notching two straight months of gains in December, as bets of lower interest rates gained steam even as European Central Bank (ECB) policymakers actively try to suppress such expectations.
However, threats linger from concerns over an economic downturn, evidence of which is already showing.
“We started 2023 on a pretty pessimistic footing, with still-stubborn inflation, a hawkish ECB and coming out of a winter with concerns regarding European energy supplies and whether the EU was heading for a deep recession,” said Stuart Cole, chief macro economist at Equiti Capital.
“But as we have gone through 2023, things have not turned out to be quite as bad as feared. The battle with CPI has been mostly won, and if the ECB can start cutting next year, hopefully the downturn will not be too deep.”
Meanwhile, fresh euro zone data showed Spain’s third-quarter gross domestic product growth slowed down slightly, while another set showed Germany’s third-quarter residential property prices dropped 10.2% in a further grim sign for the real estate sector.
Among individual movers, Argenx rebounded 7.1% following a 28% slide in two days after its autoimmune drug failed a study testing it in patients with two skin conditions.
Britain’s Harbour Energy rose for the second day, up 4.7%, after agreeing to acquire Wintershall Dea’s non-Russian oil and gas assets in a $11.2 billion deal.
Investors were also winding down for the holiday season, with European markets shut on Monday for Christmas.
(Reporting by Khushi Singh and Ankika Biswas in Bengaluru; Editing by Dhanya Ann Thoppil and Sonia Cheema)
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