European stocks fell slightly from record highs on Thursday as the coronavirus outbreak showed signs of spreading globally, raising fresh concerns about global growth.
There were over 70 confirmed cases in Japan as of Wednesday, the third highest number after China, while South Korea reported 31 new cases of the new coronavirus today, bringing the total number of infections here to 82.
On the data front, Germany’s consumer confidence is set to ease slightly in March, as a modest gain in economic expectations were offset by moderate losses in income outlook and the propensity to buy, results of a monthly survey by the market research firm GfK showed.
The forward-looking GfK consumer confidence index fell to 9.8 points for March from 9.9 in February. That was in line with economists’ expectations.
Separately, U.K. retail sales grew 0.9 percent sequentially in January after falls in the previous two months, official data showed.
The pan European Stoxx 600 dropped 0.25 percent to 432.87 after climbing 0.8 percent in the previous session.
The German DAX slid 0.1 percent and France’s CAC 40 index eased 0.2 percent, while the U.K.’s FTSE 100 was little changed after the release of retail sales data.
Swiss reinsurer Swiss Re fell nearly 4 percent after its 2019 profit missed forecasts due to claims for a series of man-made and natural disasters, as well as expenses for its U.S. casualty business.
Telefonica SA shares also fell about 4 percent. The Spanish telecommunications company slipped to a net loss in the fourth quarter on the back of restructuring costs and impairments from Mexico and Argentina.
Swedish radiation therapy equipment maker Elekta AB slumped 8 percent after its quarterly operating profit growth came in below estimates.
Axa shares declined 3 percent. The insurer lowered its 2020 profit guidance for its companies-focused XL unit and named a new boss for the division.
Air France-KLM Group tumbled 4.2 percent after it warned of coronavirus impact on earnings.
Bouygues SA, a telecommunications, media, and construction company, rallied 4 percent after its full-year sales and profit figures topped forecasts.
Schneider Electric shares surged nearly 8 percent. The company reported fiscal 2019 net income (Group share) of 2.41 billion euros compared to 2.33 billion euros, previous year.
Shares of McBride fell 2.5 percent. The maker of retailer own brand household goods reported weak results in the first half of fiscal 2020.
Lloyds Banking Group shares rallied 3 percent. The bank posted a 26 percent drop in pre-tax profits for 2019 and said it had reached a settlement with the Official Receiver over the mis-selling of payment protection insurance.
Medical technology business Smith & Nephew soared 8.4 percent as it reported revenues of more than $5bn for the first time in its history.
BAE Systems climbed 3.5 percent. The defense company reported pretax profit of 1.6 billion pounds for the year ended 31 December 2019 compared to 1.2 billion pounds, previous year.
Mining giant Anglo American advanced 1.5 percent after reporting better than expected annual results.
Fresenius Medical Care added 5 percent. The company said it expects both revenue and net income to grow at a mid to high single digit rate in 2020.
Similarly, Fresenius jumped 6 percent after confirming its medium-term growth targets.
Fuchs Petrolub declined 1.4 percent. The company engaged in the lubricant business reported a 21 percent decline in its profit after tax for the full year, while sales revenues stood at last year’s level.
Beverage filling and packaging company Krones AG fell 2 percent after its fiscal 2019 consolidated earnings before taxes decreased to 41.7 million euros from 204.3 million euros in the previous year.
Dialog Semiconductor rose over 1 percent after it signed a definitive agreement to acquire all outstanding shares of Adesto Technologies for $12.55 per share in cash, or for approximately $500 million enterprise value.
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