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European shares slip on disappointing updates from banks, drugmakers

Published 01/02/2024, 08:59
Updated 01/02/2024, 17:17
© Reuters. The German share price index DAX graph is pictured at the stock exchange in Frankfurt, Germany, January 31, 2024.     REUTERS/Staff

By Shashwat Chauhan and Shristi Achar A

(Reuters) -European shares slipped on Thursday, pulled down by downbeat updates from banks across the continent as well as drugmakers Roche (LON:0QQ6) and Sanofi (EPA:SASY), but Volvo Cars and Ferrari (NYSE:RACE) raced higher.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index closed 0.5% lower.

Banks were the biggest drag, down 2.0%, led by an 9.2% drop in BNP Paribas (EPA:BNPP) after the French lender reported a surprise drop in fourth-quarter income and pushed back a key profitability target.

French peers including SocGen and Credit Agricole (EPA:CAGR) also fell 4.0% and 2.8%, respectively.

Adding to sector's woes, shares of Dutch bank ING Groep (AS:INGA) dropped 6.4% after the bank forecast lower total income for 2024.

Swiss drugmaker Roche tumbled 5.5% as the market expressed disappointed with the company's more modest than expected 2024 outlook, while Sanofi fell 4.1% after missing fourth quarter profit estimates.

Dassault Systemes slumped 10.4% after the French software maker projected revenue growth of 8-10% this year at constant currencies, below analyst expectations, while Swedish medical equipment maker Getinge shed 11.9% after missing quarterly earnings estimates.

On the data front, euro zone inflation eased as expected last month, data showed, but underlying price pressures fell less than forecast, likely boosting the European Central Bank's argument that rate cuts should not be rushed.

"The numbers that we got today, even though they were slightly higher than expected, they're still highlighting a good downward trend," said Patrick Farrell, chief investment officer at Charles Stanley & Co in London.

"But from a central bank perspective, the risks are still to the upside on inflation."

Meanwhile, the Bank of England kept interest rates at a nearly 16-year high, but opened up the possibility of rate cuts, while Sweden's central bank also kept its key interest rate unchanged at 4.00%.

These decisions came on the heels of the U.S. Federal Reserve's verdict on Wednesday, when market expectations of an early interest rate cut were dampened as the central bank left rates unchanged but was less dovish than anticipated.

On the brighter side, heavyweight energy stocks advanced 1.0% as Shell (LON:RDSa) gained 2.4% after beating quarterly earnings forecasts.

Automobiles rose 1.2%, buoyed by a 26.4% surge in Volvo Cars after the Swedish automaker said it would stop funding Polestar Automotive (NASDAQ:PSNY) Holding.

© Reuters. The German share price index DAX graph is pictured at the stock exchange in Frankfurt, Germany, January 31, 2024.     REUTERS/Staff

Ferrari jumped 9.2% after the luxury sports car maker reassured investors that its revenues and core earnings would keep growing this year.

Among other movers, French caterer Sodexo (EPA:EXHO)'s newly spun-off voucher unit Pluxee rose as much as 15% in its market debut in Paris.

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