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European Stocks Hit by Poor Results, US Debt Impasse

Friday, 29 Jul 2011 06:43 AM

 

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* FTSEurofirst 300 down 0.5 pct, Euro STOXX 50 down 0.8 pct

* Investors move to the sidelines as U.S. debt talks drag

* More downside seen as indexes not in oversold territory

* Volatility index surges 25 percent on the week

* Greek shares up on news China could help bond buybacks

*

By Blaise Robinson

PARIS, July 29 (Reuters) - European stocks dropped early on Friday, extending their week-long slide as U.S. lawmakers failed to break a deadlock over raising the debt ceiling, fuelling fears of a default by the world's biggest economy.

Investors' risk appetite was also dampened after a string of disappointing corporate results and as Moody's placed Spain on review for a possible downgrade due to weak growth and funding pressures, hitting the euro .

At 0900 GMT the FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares was down 0.5 percent at 1,083.72 points. The benchmark index has lost nearly 3 percent so far this week.

The euro zone's blue chip Euro STOXX 50 index was down 0.8 percent at 2,670.77 points.

French water and waste group Veolia Environnement sank 7.8 percent after warning it will miss a profit growth target this year, while power network equipment maker Schneider Electric dropped 4 percent after saying the impact of higher raw material prices was much higher than forecast.

"We're getting a lot of totally unexpected profit warnings from companies that were seen solid, and the market shows no mercy," Kepler Capital Markets trader Patrice Perois said.

"The analysts' forecasts are probably 15 percent too optimistic."

U.S. Republican leaders will try to rescue their budget deficit-cutting plan on Friday after House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner failed to get enough support for his plan on Thursday, fuelling fears that a deal won't be reached before the Aug. 2 deadline.

"People are rattled by the whole debt crisis from both sides of the Atlantic, while at the same time, charts show the indexes as not in oversold territory, so there is still room on the downside. This isn't capitulation yet."

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Graphic on sovereign ratings versus credit default swaps:

http://link.reuters.com/bes82s

Graphic on euro zone ratings summary:

http://link.reuters.com/pyh48r

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Despite the week-long slide, the Euro STOXX 50's 14-day relative strength index (RSI), a momentum indicator, was at 40 on Friday, with 30 and below considered oversold and 70 and above considered overbought.

The index's next key support level looms at 2,608 points, which represents a near one-year low hit earlier this month.

Spanish stocks were under pressure on Friday following Moody's warning, with the country's banking stock index down 2.7 percent. The ratings agency also puts Spanish banks on reviews for rating cut.

VOLATILITY INDEX ON THE RISE

"Moody's hasn't really told us anything we don't already know, but as long as debt issues in Spain, the euro zone and particularly in the United States remain unresolved, investors are going to be shaky," a Madrid-based trader says.

Banco Santander was down 2.4 percent and BBVA dropped 2.1 percent.

Spanish debt yields rose while bund futures sharply rallied, and the Euro STOXX 50 volatility index -- Europe's main barometer of anxiety -- was up 4.2 percent after flirting a with one-week high earlier in the session.

The index, based on sell- and buy-options on the Euro STOXX 50 stocks, has jumped 25 percent so far this week, mainly boosted by rising fears of a U.S. debt default and credit rating downgrade.

"With all the major crises this year, from Fukushima to the sovereign debt problems, there's a high level of pessimism on the market, and investors won't come back en masse to equities until we get a quiet 9-12 month period," said Matthieu Groues, chief investment officer at Lazard Freres Gestion, which has 11 billion euros under management.

"Banking stocks are very very cheap. These stocks could jump 20 percent and they would still look cheap. Even when you price in a 50 percent haircut on Greek, Portuguese and Irish debt and a 20-30 percent haircut on Spain and Italy, these stocks still look cheap," he said.

Recently-hammered Greek shares bucked the trend on Friday, with the country's benchmark ATG index up 0.6 percent, after a Greek finance ministry official told Reuters China could provide loans to Greece to fund government bond buybacks in the secondary market to help shrink the country's debt burden. (Additional reporting by Tracy Rucinski in Madrid; Editing by Greg Mahlich)

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For rolling updates on what is moving European shares

please click on ============================================================= For pan-Europeanmarket data and news, click on codes in brackets: European Equities speed guide................... FTSEurofirst 300 index.............................. DJ STOXX index...................................... Top 10 STOXX sectors........................... Top 10 EUROSTOXX sectors...................... Top 10 Eurofirst 300 sectors................... Top 25 European pct gainers....................... Top 25 European pct losers........................

Main stock markets: Dow Jones............... Wall Street report ..... Nikkei 225............. Tokyo report............ FTSE 100............... London report........... Xetra DAX............. CAC-40............... World Indices......................................<0#.INDEX> Reuters survey of world bourse outlook.......... Western European IPO diary........................... European Asset Allocation.........................

Reuters News at a Glance: Equities...............

Main currency report:...............................

© 2014 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

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