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European shares kick off March lower as BNP Paribas slides

March 1, 2023By Reuters

March 1 (Reuters) – A fall in the shares of the euro zone’s largest bank BNP Paribas weighed on Europe’s STOXX 600 on Wednesday, while China-exposed miners and luxury firms limited losses after strong data from the world’s second largest economy soothed fears of an economic slowdown.

The continent-wide STOXX 600 fell 0.7% by the close, after rising as much as 0.4% in early trading.

BNP Paribas (BNPP) slid 4.2% after the Belgian state participation agency SFPI said the country was preparing the sale of a third of its 7.8% equity stake in the bank.

The banking index dipped 1.6%, slipping from multi-year highs hit in the previous session.

European shares have had a robust start to the year as relaxation of China’s zero-COVID protocols breathed life into hopes of demand recovery. The STOXX 600 notched its fourth positive month in five in February, supported by sharp gains in rate-sensitive banking shares.

However, risky assets fell out of favor as fears of further monetary tightening by the European Central Bank to tackle sticky inflation weighed on the minds of investors.

Data on Wednesday showed regional inflation from Germany ticked up last month, with all eyes now on preliminary euro area wide consumer price inflation reading for February due on Thursday.

Also weighing on the benchmark European index, utilities declined 2.6%, with Spain’s Iberdola IBE.MC and London’s National Grid NG.L losing 2.3% and 3.0%, respectively.

Capping losses on the STOXX 600, China’s factory sector grew in February at the fastest pace in more than a decade, an outlier in Asia, where manufacturing growth stalled elsewhere.

Luxury giants such as LVMH (LVMH) and Kering (PRTP) which have big exposure to China, rose 0.4% and 1.2%, respectively.

Italian luxury group Moncler (MONC) climbed 3.3% after its sales jumped 25% at constant exchange rates to come in ahead of forecasts.

“The reopening of China post-COVID would have a positive effect on global growth. In general, you would say that for a lot of luxury names recovering Asian demand is an important driver,” said Richard Flax, chief investment officer at Moneyfarm.

The European basic resources index advanced 2.2% as metal prices jumped.

The China-exposed autos index added 0.9%.

French testing company Eurofins Scientific (EUFI) slumped 12.1% to its worst day in nearly 20 years after worse-than-expected earnings and weak 2023 outlook.

Euronext NV (ENX) rose 4.0% after the exchange operator withdrew from its 5.5-billion-euro (USD 5.82 billion) indicative offer to acquire fund distribution firm Allfunds (ALLFG). Allfunds fell more than 13.1% to the bottom of the STOXX 600.

Puma (PUMG) slipped 6.8% after the sportswear maker forecast 2023 operating profit around last year’s level weighed by currency effects and higher freight and raw material costs.

(Reporting by Johann M Cherian, Shreyashi Sanyal and Bansari Mayur Kamdar in Bengaluru; Editing by Nivedita Bhattacharjee and Alex Richardson)


This article originally appeared on reuters.com

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