Stocks - Europe Weakens; Heineken Update Weighs Ahead of ECB

Stocks - Europe Weakens; Heineken Update Weighs Ahead of ECB  | Jul 16, 2020 08:35

Stocks - Europe Weakens; Heineken Update Weighs Ahead of ECB

By Peter Nurse - European stock markets traded lower Thursday, weighed by disappointing Covid-19-impacted trading updates ahead of the latest meeting from the European Central Bank.

At 3:35 AM ET (0735 GMT), the DAX in Germany traded 0.8% lower, the CAC 40 in France fell 0.9% and the U.K.'s FTSE index was down 0.7%. 

Compagnie Financiere Richemont  (SIX:CFR) stock fell 4.9% after the Swiss luxury-goods group said its sales plunged 47% in its first quarter from a year, falling significantly across all regions, except China, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Continuing the theme, Heineken (AS:HEIO) stock dropped 3.1% as the world’s second-largest brewer was hit hard by the lockdowns of bars and restaurants. Net income plunged 76% as the company took a 550 million euro ($630 million) asset impairment charge. And GVC Holdings PLC (LON:GVC) shares fell 4.7% as the owner of Ladbrokes (LON:LCL) and Coral bookmakers reported an 11% drop in net gaming revenue in a half-year ravaged by the cancellation of sports events and the closure of its high street stores.

On the flip side, Zalando (DE:ZALG) stock rose 2.5% after the online fashion retailer raised its guidance for the full year following strong growth in the second quarter.

Attention will now turn to the latest ECB get together, although the central bank is unlikely to deliver another easing package so soon after June’s largesse.

“We think the ECB will strike a more positive note on current economic developments, while continuing to express caution about the outlook further out,” said analysts at ABN Amro, in a research note.

Also coming later, the weekly U.S. initial jobless claims number is set to show a slowly improving employment situation, while the June retail sales release will be studied to see if May's big jump can be repeated. 

Earlier Thursday, China reported 3.2% growth in its second quarter GDP year-on-year earlier Thursday, as the world’s second-largest economy returned to growth after the first quarter’s contraction of 6.8%.

But the recovery is still uneven. Separate data showed China's industrial output beat expectations in June, but retail sales unexpectedly fell again, suggesting consumer demand remains weak.

At the same time, the Covid-19 virus continues to work its way through the global population, with the summer tourism season in Europe generating pockets of high-risk gatherings. 

Oil prices weakened Thursday after the world’s major producers agreed to relax their record cuts to output, but losses have been mitigated by a sizable drop in last week’s official U.S. crude inventories.

At 3:35 AM ET, U.S. crude futures traded 0.8% lower at $40.86 a barrel, while the international benchmark Brent contract fell 0.5% to $43.57.

Elsewhere, gold futures fell 0.2% to $1,809.65/oz, while EUR/USD traded at 1.1406, down 0.1%.

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