November 22, 2018 / 8:58 AM / 23 days ago

European shares wilt again as earnings disappoint, Italian banks drop

MILAN/LONDON (Reuters) - European shares resumed their downward trend on Thursday, hit by disappointing earnings updates and falling mining stocks, while the Thanksgiving holiday in the United States kept volumes thin.

The German share price index DAX graph is pictured at the stock exchange in Frankfurt, Germany, November 21, 2018. REUTERS/Staff

The pan-European STOXX 600 ended the day down 0.7 percent, with most sectors trading in the red following gains in the previous session that helped the pan-European index bounce from near two-year lows.

Uncertainty over Italian politics, Brexit and worries over slowing economic and earnings growth have discouraged investors from taking risks as central banks take steps to end years of easy monetary policy.

Miners .SXPP were the biggest fallers, down 1.9 percent as copper prices edged lower on worries over slowing global economic growth, hurt by an escalating trade war between Washington and Beijing. [MET/L]

Britain’s Centrica (CNA.L) slid 9.2 percent to lead losers on the STOXX 600 after its trading update. Analysts at Jefferies said even though the energy company affirmed some of its debt and dividend targets for the year, its earnings per share guidance was 10 percent below consensus.

British industrial group Rotork (ROR.L) was another big faller, down 9.1 percent after it reported a 4 percent drop in its order intake.

Swedish Match (SWMA.ST) shares tumbled 4.1 percent after the European Union’s top court stood by an EU ban on the sale of snus, a moist snuff tobacco product made by the company.

Telecoms firm Altice (ATCA.AS) slumped 11.9 percent after its third quarter core earnings fell nearly 7 percent due to heavy promotions to win customers.

“The key challenge for Altice remains to turn around revenue and EBITDA trends,” said Credit Suisse analyst Jakob Bluestone as he lowered his price target on the stock.

Concerns over the global economy have led analysts to cut their 2018 estimate for average European corporate earnings growth to 4.8 percent, from 10 percent seen at the start of the year. Growth in 2019 however is seen rising back to 10 percent.

“The market is already priced for a further sharp growth slowdown,” wrote Deutsche Bank European equity analysts.

“Yet, we think this slowdown is unlikely to materialise.”

Deutsche Bank argued that cyclical sectors will bounce back next year and outperform defensives by 15 percent by April as fears around slowing growth fade.

The strategists upgraded their recommendation on capital goods, chemicals, energy, and consumer durables (luxury goods).

Italian banks .FTIT8300 inched down just 0.2 percent after Wendesday’s steep fall, as Italy’s bond yields dropped on hopes of a compromise between the Italian government and the European Commission.

Italian lenders are highly sensitive to yields due to their big sovereign bond portfolios which drop in value when yields rise.

Banco BPM BAMI.I climbed 3 percent, the top FTSE MIB gainer. UBI Banca (UBI.MI), Banca Generali (BGN.MI), and BPER Banca (EMII.MI) rose 0.2 to 0.6 percent.

Bearish bets on a number of Italian banks have increased over the past weeks, reflecting their dim profit outlook and worries over the euro zone’s third-largest economy.

Reporting by Danilo Masoni; Editing by Susan Fenton

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