European stocks ease from record high ahead of earnings season

(Reuters) – European stocks eased from all-time highs on Monday as investors held off from making big bets ahead of the earnings season, while British retailers reopened as the economy emerges from a strict winter lockdown.

FILE PHOTO: The German share price index DAX graph is pictured at the stock exchange in Frankfurt, Germany, April 1, 2021. REUTERS/Staff

The pan-European STOXX 600 index fell 0.4% after closing at a record high on Friday, with banks, commodity and retail sectors among the biggest decliners.

Asian markets slid as investors waited to see if U.S. earnings can justify sky-high valuations, while concerns about a surge in global COVID-19 cases also weighed. [MKTS/GLOB]

European earnings will kick into higher gear later in April, with analysts expecting a 47.4% jump in first-quarter earnings for STOXX 600 companies, according to Refinitiv IBES data. Much of the support is likely to come from consumer cyclicals and industrial companies.

“Many people are aware that this reporting season is likely to be quite strong for manufacturing companies and much weaker for companies which have been affected by lockdown, the more serviced based businesses,” said Matt Siddle, portfolio manager for European equities at Fidelity International.

“The big question for the market is what happens next. How sustainable is that level of supply-demand and whether spending will be deflected back to services and different parts of the economy.”

UK’s domestically focussed FTSE mid 250 index slid 0.5%, but hovered below a record high as shops, pubs, gyms and hairdressers reopened after three months of lockdown.

Airlines EasyJet and Ryanair fell close to 3% after HSBC downgraded the stocks to “hold” from “buy”.

Meanwhile, Norway’s budget airline Norse Atlantic rose 4.5% in its stock market debut.

Italian diagnostics group DiaSorin SpA jumped 8.6% after it said it will acquire U.S. based Luminex Corp for $1.8 billion.

French utilities Veolia and Suez gained almost 8% after they agreed upon a merger deal.

Utilities and automakers were the only gainers among European sectors.

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