Stocks – Europe Dragged Lower by Apple Warning, HSBC Losses

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By Peter Nurse – European stock markets fell Tuesday amid weak earnings from banking heavyweight HSBC and a revenue warning from Apple (NASDAQ:) that weighed on the tech sector.

At 04:10 ET (0910 GMT), the U.K.’s index was trading 40 points, or 0.5%, lower, France’s was down 0.7%, while the was down 0.9%. The pan-eurozone , dropped 0.7%.

Earlier Tuesday, HSBC (LON:), Europe’s largest bank by assets, said it would cut 15% of its workforce to restore profitability after reporting a drop in profit before tax of 33% for 2019. It will cut $100 billion in assets, slash its investment bank and restructure in the United States and Europe.

Elsewhere in the banking sector, Italy’s largest lender Intesa Sanpaolo (MI:) announced an unsolicited bid for smaller rival Unione di Banche Italiane SpA (MI:) in an all-stock deal valued at just under 5 billion euros ($5.4 billion). UBI stock rose 24%, while Intesa’s rose 1.2%. The deal would help consolidate a fragmented Italian banking sector, and hopes of further mergers lifted other Italian bank stocks such as Banco Bpm SpA (MI:).

Late Monday, Apple (NASDAQ:) said it doesn’t expect to meet its revenue guidance for the March quarter due to work slowdowns and lower demand caused by the outbreak of Covid-19 in China. Its shares dropped over 5% in Frankfurt trading.

The iPhone maker was expected to be hard hit, given how much of its supply chain and consumer market are in China, but the warning is a graphic example of the impact on a Wall Street favorite that has been priced for success.

Other stocks in the tech sector have been hit hard as a consequence: STMicroelectronics (PA:) dropped 3.5%, Infineon Technologies (DE:) fell 2.7% and ASML Holding (AS:) down 1.9%. Apple (NASDAQ:) supplier Ams AG (SIX:) fell 3.1%.

In other earnings news, Glencore (LON:) reported annual results which beat market expectations but the shares still dropped 1%.

Shares in rival miner BHP Billiton (LON:) dropped almost 2% despite increasing its interim dividend after its profit and revenue rose on higher commodity prices and favorable currency movements. It too warned of near-term various uncertainties.

Looking at European economic data, the is due at 05:00 AM ET (1000 GMT), and will be the first post-coronavirus indicator of sentiment in the eurozone’s largest economy. has predicted a drop in the key economic sentiment indicator to 21.5 from 26.7.

Also due Tuesday, at 04:30 AM ET (0930 GMT), will be the latest from the U.K., which may influence the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee’s next rate-setting meeting.

Oil markets have sold off again Tuesday as China’s extended travel restrictions point to a sustained drop in demand.

AT 03:45 AM ET (0845 GMT), futures traded 1.7% lower at $51.45 a barrel and the international benchmark contract fell 1.8% to $56.60. Additionally, rose 0.3% to $1,591.75/oz while traded at 1.0828, down 0.1%.

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