European stocks traded lower on Wednesday morning, as investor kept a close eye on corporate earnings and trade tensions.
The pan-European Stoxx 600 was 0.23 percent lower with most sectors in the red. Retail was among the worst-performing sectors in early deals, dragged down by ratings downgrades and disappointing earnings. Ahold Delhaize fell over 3 percent after reporting second-quarter sales below expectations.
Health care stocks were also under particular pressure. H.Lundbeck fell 7 percent after announcing plans to expand to the Chinese market and Novo Nordisk was down 4 percent after posting lower-than-expected second-quarter sales.
Tire maker Nokian Renkaat jumped to the top of the benchmark, after reporting results that beat analysts’ forecasts. The Dutch lender ABN AMRO also rose 3 percent after reporting stronger-than-expected profits for the second quarter of the year.
Investors are digesting developments overnight after the U.S. said it will impose further tariffs on Chinese goods starting August 23, 2018. It is expected that 25 percent import taxes are going to applied to about $ 16 billion of annual imports. A first set of tariffs, on $ 34 billion worth of goods, went into effect in July.
Traders and market observers were also given a surprise from Elon Musk’s Tesla on Tuesday, after the firm’s boss said he was considering taking it private at $ 420 a share. Tesla shares jumped by as much as 8.5 percent following Musk’s announcement; trading of the stock was then halted, and the share price surged once again after trade resumed.
In other corporate news, 21st Century Fox filed paperwork for its proposed £14 ($ 18) per share takeover of British broadcaster Sky on Tuesday, although it is still short of Comcast’s £14.75 per share bid for the coveted media asset.
Economic releases in Europe are fairly quiet Wednesday, with the exception of Spain releasing June year-on-year industrial production figures. Elsewhere, the pound hit a nine-month low against the euro amid the ongoing Brexit uncertainty.
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