Jan 10 (Reuters) – European shares ended lower on Wednesday, with miners and travel stocks leading the fall, as optimism about early interest rate cuts continued to fade, while investors kept tabs on a key US inflation print due later this week.
The pan-European STOXX 600 ended 0.2% lower, with travel and leisure leading sectoral declines, falling 1.1%. The basic resources index dipped 1.1% as well, its third straight day of losses.
Heavyweight energy shares lost 0.9%, their fourth straight session in the red amid slipping oil prices.
Helping limit losses, the health care index continued its recent strong run, adding 0.3%.
Meanwhile, European Central Bank (ECB) policymakers reaffirmed the bank’s policy stance, saying the euro zone may have been in recession last quarter and prospects in the near term remain weak.
“People were overly optimistic in expecting rate cuts, that’s because the progression of inflation from September to November had been very swift,” said Frédérique Carrier, head of investment strategy for RBC Wealth Management in the British Isles and Asia.
“But the improvement in inflation has slowed somewhat … what’s remarkable is that unemployment has not deteriorated, so that is giving the ECB some scope for patience.”
Investor focus this week will be on the earnings season in the United States and Europe, which will help assess the impact of high interest rates on profit margins, potentially influencing the market direction for the next few weeks.
Also on the radar will be a December US consumer prices reading on Thursday.
On the data front on Wednesday, Norway’s core inflation rate fell below expectations in December, which could help bring forward the central bank’s policy easing plan. Oslo shares ended 0.5% lower.
Separately, surveys from two prominent research institutes said the outlook for Germany’s construction sector was grim for 2024. German stocks ended flat on the day.
Meanwhile, Barclays raised its 2024 target for Europe’s benchmark STOXX 600 to 510 points from 485, citing the prospect of central banks cutting interest rates and a “soft landing” scenario playing out.
Among individual stocks, UK insurers Direct Line and Admiral fell 7.5% and 5.6%, respectively, as traders pointed to an article in the Insurance Post quoting a regulator’s comments on premium finance.
Italy’s Davide Campari lost 6.5% after the spirits group completed a 1.2 billion euro (USD 1.3 billion) private placement of shares and bonds to fund its acquisition of French cognac house Courvoisier.
Swiss chemical company Sika fell 3.8% after missing full-year sales estimates.
(Reporting by Khushi Singh, Shristi Achar A, and Shashwat Chauhan in Bengaluru; Editing by Sonia Cheema and Mark Potter)