• Saturday, May 18, 2024

Business

Iran-Israel conflict: European shares pare losses

UK’s FTSE 100 rose on Friday after dovish comments from Bank of England deputy governor Dave Ramsden

Motorists drive their vehicles past a billboard depicting Iranian missiles in Tehran on April 20, 2024, a day after Iran’s state media reported explosions in the central province of Isfahan. (Photo by ATTA KENARE/AFP via Getty Images)

By: Pramod Thomas

EUROPEAN stocks closed lower on Friday (19), but off their over one-month intraday low,as anxiety around escalating Middle East tensions seemed to ease, while French cosmetic giant L’Oreal logged its best day since early January after robust results.

The continent-wide STOXX 600 closed 0.1 per cent lower, but notching its biggest weekly decline of 1.2 per cent since mid-January owing to renewed focus on geopolitical tensions that steered investors away from risky assets and a rout in technology stocks.

Explosions echoed over an Iranian city in what sources described as an Israeli attack, but Tehran played down the incident and indicated it had no plans for retaliation – a response that appeared gauged towards averting region-wide war.

“The Israeli retaliation was less severe than had been feared and so far it appears that Iran has taken the more limited response as a signal that the rhetoric needs to be dialled down and both sides step back,” said Stuart Cole, chief economist at Equiti Capital.

“But the market will remain cautious as nothing can be taken for granted.”

UK’s FTSE 100 rose on Friday after dovish comments from Bank of England deputy governor Dave Ramsden on inflation boosted bets on monetary policy easing by the UK central bank in 2024, while Middle East tensions continued to sour sentiment.

Both of Britain’s main equity gauges remained in the red for most of the session, but the benchmark FTSE 100 rebounded 0.2 per cent in the last hour of trading. The midcap FTSE 250 was down 0.3 per cent. Still, British stocks had their worst week in three months.

As for major earnings, L’Oreal jumped 5 per cent after beating expectations with a strong rise in first-quarter sales.

Schneider Electric dropped 3.2 per cent as the French company is in talks with US engineering software producer Bentley Systems over a potential “strategic transaction”.

Royal Unibrew jumped 18.1 per cent after the Danish brewer posted first-quarter results above expectations and raised its full-year outlook.

With markets gearing up for the full volley of corporate reports in the weeks to follow, first-quarter earnings are expected to have decreased 12.1 per cent year-on-year, LSEG data showed.

Among others, Volvo shed 4.1 per cent after its second biggest shareholder Geely Holding sold part of its stake in the Swedish truck maker.

The technology sector dropped 1.7 per cent, with Switzerland’s Comet Holding losing 3.4 per cent after first-quarter results. The sector has been the worst hit this week knocked down by chip equipment maker ASML Holding’s weaker-than-expected first-quarter bookings on Wednesday.

Providing some relief, European Central Bank president Christine Lagarde said euro zone inflation is likely to decline further and interest rates could be cut if its long-standing price growth criteria are met.

(Agencies)

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