European shares struggle to shrug off growth pessimism

March 26, 2019

(Reuters) – European shares were subdued on Tuesday after four days of losses amid concerns about a softening global economy and uncertainty over Britain’s exit from the European Union.

The pan-region STOXX 600 index edged higher, a day after hitting a 12-day low. Germany and Madrid slipped while Paris and London’s FTSE 100 were slightly higher.

Investors’ concern over the health of global economy intensified on Friday after disappointing German and U.S. factory data that led to an inversion of the U.S. Treasury yield curve, which some see as a leading indicator of recession.

On Tuesday, U.S. 10-year Treasury yields recovered slightly from 2017 lows hit in the previous session. [US/]

A survey showed German consumer morale deteriorated unexpectedly heading into April, suggesting that household spending could weaken in the second quarter of this year.

Airbus rose 1.2 percent, providing the biggest boost to the main European index after the planemaker signed a deal worth tens of billions of dollars to sell 300 aircraft to China.

Leading gains on STOXX was ConvaTec Group Plc, up 6.3 percent after Swedish business daily Dagens Industri said private equity firm EQT could be one of the parties interested in buying the company.

Meanwhile, Ferguson Plc was among the biggest weights, falling 8.7 percent after the world’s largest heating and plumbing equipment supplier’s half-year ongoing trading profit missed analyst expectations.

Europe’s retail sector and personal and household goods sector were the biggest boosts to the market but their gains were offset by losses in banks and tech stocks.

British online supermarket Ocado rose 3.5 percent on partnering with Australia’s Coles Group, its fifth major overseas deal in less than 18 months.

Dublin stocks, typically sensitive to Brexit news, slipped 0.6 percent.

British lawmakers on Tuesday wrested control of the parliamentary agenda from the government for a day in a highly unusual bid to find a way through the Brexit impasse after Prime Minister Theresa May’s EU divorce deal was rejected again.

Lawmakers will now vote on a range of Brexit options on Wednesday, giving parliament a chance to indicate whether it can agree on a deal with closer ties to Brussels – and then try to push the government in that direction.

Nearly three years after the 2016 EU membership referendum, and four days before Britain was supposed to leave the bloc, it remains still unclear how, when or even if Brexit will take place, with parliament and the nation still bitterly divided.

(Reporting by Medha Singh and Agamoni Ghosh in Bengaluru; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

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