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HSBC, healthcare stocks drag European shares lower; Fed minutes, Nvidia results eyed

Published 21/02/2024, 08:35
Updated 21/02/2024, 17:15
© Reuters. The German share price index DAX graph is pictured at the stock exchange in Frankfurt, Germany, February 20, 2024.     REUTERS/Staff

By Shubham Batra and Khushi Singh

(Reuters) -European shares slipped on Wednesday hurt by banking shares following a drop in shares of HSBC (LON:HSBA) on a disappointing earnings report, while investors braced for the Federal Reserve's last meeting minutes for any clues on the central bank's rate outlook.

HSBC tumbled 8.4% to record its biggest one-day drop since April 2020, after a shock $3 billion charge on its stake in a Chinese bank, taking the shine off its record annual profit.

The broader banks index fell 1.1% after the dive in the lender's shares.

"Investors are focusing on the weak Q4 results, even though the bank increased its share buybacks and boosted its full year dividend to the highest level since 2008," said Kathleen Brooks, research director at XTB.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index edged 0.2% lower, also bogged down by a 0.8% loss in healthcare stocks, which eased from a 10-month high hit in the previous session.

French vouchers company Edenred (EPA:EDEN) slipped 11.5% to the bottom of the STOXX 600 after news its Italian unit was being investigated by the public prosecutor's office in Rome over an allegedly fraudulent public tender launched in 2019.

Fresenius Medical Care fell 5.5% as analysts flagged a weak outlook for patient volumes from the German dialysis specialist.

Earnings and updates from companies across the continent have been mixed for the quarter, though the benchmark index hit a two-year high recently as investors focused on the possibility of a first interest rate cut by the European Central Bank this year.

Mining shares lost steam and slid 0.8% after Glencore (LON:GLEN) reported bleak earnings and slashed its payout to investors. Shares of the UK miner dropped 1.1%.

Peer Rio Tinto (LON:RIO) also fell, moving 1.5% lower after reporting a decline in annual profit.

Among other movers, coffee company JDE Peet's forecast 2024 organic sales growth at the low end of its mid-term target, taking its shares 5.0% lower.

Carrefour (EPA:CARR) was among the top gainer, climbing 4.9% after Europe's largest retailer reported solid results and announced a 55% dividend hike on Tuesday.

© Reuters. The German share price index DAX graph is pictured at the stock exchange in Frankfurt, Germany, February 20, 2024.     REUTERS/Staff

EFG International rose 1.5% after the Swiss private bank reported a jump in net profit last year, marking a record profit for the lender, which has hired extensively from Credit Suisse (SIX:CSGN) following the bank's collapse.

Investors will now turn their focus to the U.S. for the Fed's last meeting minutes, due at 1900 GMT, to gauge the central bank's interest-rate path and Nvidia's results as expectations and forecast are high from the artificial intelligence darling after a stellar stock rally.

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