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Basic material, luxury stocks drive European shares to a third day of losses

by Wanda Rich
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By Sruthi Shankar and Susan Mathew

(Reuters) – European stocks fell on Friday as a slide in Rio Tinto’s iron ore exports hammered mining majors, while strong earnings from luxury brands were overshadowed by concerns about their sustainability amid surging COVID-19 cases.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index reversed early gains to end lower for a third straight session, down 0.3%, taking weekly losses to 0.6%.

The mining index slumped 2.8% as Rio Tinto slipped 3.4% after reporting a 12% fall in quarterly iron ore shipments ahead of earnings, and dragging other big names such as BHP and Glencore 1.5% and 3.5% lower respectively.[MET/L]

Concerns about higher inflation and rising COVID-19 infections causing a slowdown in economic recovery have weighed on investors’ minds this week, driving many to the safety of bond markets and making it harder for record-high equities to build on gains.

“On one hand, a strong start to U.S. Q2 earnings season and dovish rhetoric from central banks continued to provide support. (But), several factors have weighed on the outlook, including weaker activity data out of China, signs that growth and earnings have peaked,” said Silvia Dall’Angelo, senior economist, at the international business of Federated Hermes.

Eyes next week will be on the European Central Bank meeting, to see if a change in monetary policy is on the cards following its recent strategy update.

Sweden’s Ericsson lost 9.4%, after the telecoms company after it reported second-quarter core earnings below market estimates, hit by a decline in sales in mainland China.

Luxury stocks tumbled with Burberry down almost 5% despite strong sales. No change to full-year forecast could signal the improvement cannot be sustained, an analyst said.

Richemont also lost 0.9% despite strong results, while Louis Vuitton owner LVMH’s 1.3% slide weighed the most on the STOXX 600 and helped push France’s CAC 40 to its third straight weekly loss.

Defensive sectors were the gainers, with real estate, utilities and healthcare rising between 0.5% and 1% as worries about the coronavirus remained.

England’s coronavirus crisis could return again surprisingly quickly, the British government’s chief medical adviser said, ahead of lifting of all pandemic-led restrictions on Monday despite rising COVID-19 cases.

Travel and leisure stocks gained 0.4%, with shares in UK’s Whitbread, Intercontinental Hotels and British-Airways owner IAG up almost 3%. [.L]

President Joe Biden said on Thursday the United States is reviewing when it can lift restrictions that ban most-non U.S. citizens from travelling to the United States from much of Europe.

Topping the pan-region index on the day was a 14% surge by tech company Sinch, while other Swedish names such as Getinge and Addtech followed, rallying after positive earnings updates.


(Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh.V and Toby Chopra)