European shares fall on Hong Kong unrest, Trump’s disappointing trade comments

November 13, 2019

By Susan Mathew

(Reuters) – European shares retreated from four-year highs on Wednesday, as a highly anticipated speech by U.S. President Donald Trump gave scant clues on the progress of a trade deal with China, and as anti-government protests in Hong Kong raged on, denting sentiment.

Banks with significant exposure to Hong Kong such as HSBC and Standard Chartered lost 2% and 1.5%. Downbeat earnings from Dutch bank ABN Amro also hurt the banking sector <.SX7P>, which fell 2.2%.

Parts of the Asian financial hub were paralyzed as the months-long unrest continued. Protesters hurled bricks onto roads lined with some of the world’s most expensive real estate and luxury flagship stores.

On the trade front, Trump on Tuesday reiterated that United States is close to signing a ‘phase one’ trade deal with China, but would only accept a deal that is good for his country, offering no new details on negotiations at a speech made to the Economic Club of New York.

That hit trade-sensitive exporting sectors with mining stocks <.SXPP> slipping 1.6%, while the lack of details on possible U.S. tariffs on European carmakers weighed on auto stocks <.SXAP>, which fell 1.8%.

“Equity markets have priced in quite a lot of optimism that (a trade deal) is likely to happen. So, there is a little bit of disappointment that there wasn’t a concrete proposal,” said Ian Heslop, head of global equities at Merian Global Investors.

Germany’s auto-heavy benchmark index <.GDAXI> looked to post its biggest daily drop in a month. The pan-European STOXX 600 index <.STOXX> fell 0.7% retreating from four-year highs hit on Tuesday.

A clear move into defensive stocks <.SDEFN> such as consumer stocks <.SX3P> <.SXQP>, healthcare <.SXDP> and utility shares <.SX6P>, underlined muted risk appetite.

Spanish stocks <.IBEX> led losses among regional peers, down 1.4%, extending a slide after Socialists and far-left Unidas Podemos formed a new coalition on Tuesday. The unexpectedly fast preliminary agreement was formed between two parties that recently refused to work together.

“I think its probably a concern that needs to seen to be played out in terms of what economic policy of the new government is likely to be,” Merian’s Heslop said.

On the corporate earnings front, shares in Deutsche Wohnen rose 2.3% after the German real estate company reiterated its forecast and said it would buy back shares for 750 million euros, while Tullow Oil slumped almost 21% on cutting its 2019 oil production and free cash flow forecast.

(Reporting by Susan Mathew in Bengaluru; Editing by Bernard Orr and Shailesh Kuber)

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