European shares fell on Wednesday amid a global pullback in stock markets as worries about political turmoil in the United States led investors to seek safety after a strong run sent regional benchmarks to record highs. The pan-European STOXX 600 fell 0.3 percent, as major regional benchmarks tracked a global dip in stocks and the dollar as concerns over U.S. President Trump multiplied. Euro zone blue chips and the bloc’s broader index of stocks both dropped 0.6 percent.
Britain’s FTSE 100 on the other hand hovered close to its record high hit on Tuesday, outperforming European peers as gains among miners supported it. Despite their falls on Wednesday, European benchmarks remain near recent highs, having risen sharply as investors pile in to the region on the back of an economic recovery, robust company earnings and voters’ rejection of populist parties in elections.
“Markets broke upwards with the disappearance of concerns around the French election. Quite a lot of fast money came in and markets are just pausing now to digest that,” said Stephen Macklow-Smith, head of European equities at JP Morgan Asset Management. Ubisoft Entertainment, the third-biggest global entertainment company, fell 6 percent after it cut its mid-term sales forecast, reporting results near the bottom end of its target range after the close on Tuesday.
Raiffeisen Bank was a bright spot on a negative banking sector, up 3.5 percent after its first-quarter profit jumped more than expected as write-downs shrank. Lloyds Bank gained 1.9 percent after the British government sold its last remaining shares in the bank, marking the end of an era after one of the largest financial crisis bailouts.
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But the Netherlands’ largest domestic lender ABN Amro fell 3.2 percent after its results, with traders citing a lower net interest margin and capital ratio, though the headline net income beat expectations at 615 million euros.
Thyssenkrupp was the top European gainer, up 4 percent after Tata Steel agreed the terms of a deal to cut benefits for its British pension scheme, removing a major obstacle to the potential merger of its steel assets with the German steel maker.
Thyssenkrupp’s labour boss said the pensions deal does not lessen workers’ opposition to a possible merger, however. Gold miner Fresnillo rose 2.8 percent as the price of the safe-haven asset rose to a two week high. Tullow Oil gained 2 percent after JP Morgan reiterated its ‘overweight’ rating on the stock, saying the oil company had improved its funding position, and valuation had returned to more compelling territory.
Norwegian fertilizer maker Yara got a boost from broker Liberum raising it to ‘buy’ from ‘sell’, saying prices of urea, a key ingredient in fertilizers, are close to a trough with fewer capacity additions ahead. Trading in Oslo was closed for the day, however, and the market will reopen on Thursday. European earnings continued to paint a bright picture for the region’s equities, with earnings growth for the quarter seen at 19 percent, according to Thomson Reuters data.