European shares fell for the fifth straight session on Thursday, bogged down by weakness in telecom and real estate sectors amid growing fears of an impending recession.
The region-wide STOXX 600 was down 0.2%, with investors jittery ahead of a slew of interest rate decisions from major central banks, including from the US Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank next week.
“We’re in a wait-and-see mode at the moment. Next week is a huge week for all markets and that is really going to set the tone between now and year-end,” said Hugh Gimber, global market strategist at J.P. Morgan Asset Management in London.
“There is a little bit too much excitement in the market at the moment as to how quickly the central banks are going to be able to slow the pace of tightening because inflation is still too high. That’s very very clear in both the eurozone and the UK.”
European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde is also due to speak at an event later in the day.
Among STOXX 600 sectors, telecom led declines, falling 1.1%, followed by real estate, which quickly reversed early gains to slide 0.8%.
However, China’s loosening of its strict COVID-19 curbs boosted sectors such as energy and miners, which rose 0.8% and 0.7% respectively, tracking oil and metal prices higher.
China-exposed financial services firm Prudential plc rose 1.7% and was among the top gainers on London’s blue-chip FTSE 100 index.
Among individual stocks, Ryanair rose 1.3% after Europe’s largest airline said on Wednesday that Group Chief Executive Michael O’Leary had agreed to extend his contract to 2028.
Shares of British American Tobacco fell 2.8% after the tobacco firm said it expects net finance costs to top 1.6 billion pounds ($1.95 billion) in FY22 due to rising interest rates globally and a strong dollar.