European Stocks Fall as Asia Declines, Earnings Disappoint
London (Feb 3) Europe stocks fell again on Wednesday after Asia had another down day and as companies including Swiss watch mater Swatch Group issued results that fell below expectations.
In London, the FTSE slipped 0.84% to 5,872.24. On the mainland, the DAX erased 1.33% to 9,435.89 in Frankfurt and in Paris the CAC 40 retreated 0.73% to 4,252.64.
S&P 500 futures were down 0.11% at 1,895.50.
Corporate results dominated the mood in Europe, which failed to get a bounce from a rebound in eurozone retail trade. Seasonally adjusted retail trade in the 19 countries using the common currency rose by 0.3% in December, the first increase in six months, according to the latest figures from the EU's Eurostat statics agency.
Later Wednesday. the spotlight shifts to the other side of the Atlantic Ocean for the latest batch of economic data from the world's largest economy including MBA mortgage applications, the ADP employment report for January, the ISM non-manufacturing index and weekly oil inventory data.
In Europe, disappointing earnings took the mojo out of several stocks.
In Zurich, Swatch was down 1.18% after the maker of Omega, Tissot and Calvin Klein watches posted a bigger-than-expected drop in quarterly earnings. Operating profit fell to 1.451 billion Swiss francs ($1.42 billion) in the fourth quarter, down 17% from a year ago.
But on the plus side, Swatch predicted a sales increase of "well over" 5% in 2016 in local currency terms, based on growing demand for Swiss watches particularly in China, Russia and India after a "disappointing" 2015.
In Cophenhagen, drugmaker Novo Nordisk (NVO - Get Report) shed more than 4% on fourth-quarter earnings that fell below expectations. The world's largest maker of insulin said fourth-quarter profit rose 26% to 8.26 billion kroner ($1.21 billion), below the Dkr 8.45 billion average predicted in a Bloomberg News analysts' survey.
In London, Hargreaves Lansdown(HRGLY) was also more than 4% lower after the retail investment services firm posted lower than expected first-half revenue and pretax profits.
And in Madrid, Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria (BBVA) was down 2.32% despite posting better than expected results. Net profit rose to €940 million ($1.03 billion) from €689 million a year earlier. For all of 2015, net profit was 0.9% above 2014.
Among the day's stars, Syngenta (SYT) was up nearly 6% on news of a $43 billion takeover offer from China National Chemical Corp. backed by Syngenta's board. The buyer pledged to keep the Syngenta name and its headquarters in Switzerland, with an IPO of the expanded business planned in coming years.
Also in Zurich, ABB (ABB - Get Report) inched up nearly 0.5% on a bullish earnings report from the Swiss maker of power transmission cables. Its operating margin increased by 60 basis in the fourth quarter points to 11.8%, which it attributed to the successful turnaround of its power systems business and continued cost savings and productivity gains.
Hikma Pharmaceuticals rose 1.96% in London, on a ratings upgrade from Bank of America Merrill Lynch, which recommends buying the stock.
And in Paris, luxury products group LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton had reason to break out the bubbly. The maker of Louis Vuitton handbags and Moët & Chandon champagne rose by nearly 6% after posting better than expected quarterly results. Profits in perfumes and cosmetics were up by 26%, led by growth in Christian Dior and Guerlain.
LVMH also called for raising the annual dividend by 11%.
Asian benchmarks all ended the day in the red, with the Hang Seng falling 2.34% to 18,991.51 in Hong Kong and the Nikkei back-pedalling 3.15% to 17,191.25 in Tokyo.
The CSI 300 composite index for mainland China finished 0.43% lower at 2,948.639.
In Hong Kong, Lenovo fell 10.19% after the world's largest PC maker posted its first quarterly revenue decline in more than six years.