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European shares fall as business growth data deepens slowdown worries

By Susan Mathew

(Reuters) -European shares ended lower on Tuesday, tracking declines in global stock markets with business expansion data for May renewing investor concerns over slowing economic growth and monetary policy tightening.

The pan-European STOXX 60 index closed 1.1% down, giving back almost all of Monday’s gains.

PMI data showed euro zone business growth slowed this month and a shortage of raw materials held back expansion in manufacturing, adding to worries over global growth.

Europe’s largest economy, Germany, meanwhile, remains on the growth path helped by a sustained rebound in services, although demand outlook looks bleak amid inflation and supply issues. German shares gave up 1.8%.

“The clouds are packing above the eurozone economy,” said Bert Colijn, senior economist, Eurozone at ING. “And the question is really how long the service sector can continue to profit from consumers… when we also see that purchasing power is under extreme pressure due to high inflation.”

“Inflationary pressures are barely abating and… this is a warning that it is likely to remain quite hawkish for the European Central Bank,” he said, signalling a period of sustained pressure for stocks.

All major sectors posted broad declines, with luxury stocks and retailers in the lead, which take a hit when disposable income is squeezed.

The French index, packed with luxury stocks, slumped 1.7%, the top decliner among regional peers.

Tech stocks on Europe fell 2.7% along with Wall Street after Snapchat-owner Snap Inc’s profit warning hurt other major social media stocks. Frankfurt-listed shares of Snap plunged 44.6%.

“Snap seems to have taken the blame for the market’s inability to hold its limited gains, but in reality, investors are still taking every chance they can to cut back on stocks, particularly those previous market darlings in the tech sector,” said Chris Beauchamp, chief market analyst at online trading platform IG.

The STOXX 600 is now down more than 12% from this year’s highs hit in early January.

Worries about monetary policy tightening to control surging inflation, the Russia-Ukraine conflict and COVID-19 curbs in China restricting demand in the world’s second-largest economy have all weighed on markets.

Tele2 plunged 7.9% after investment company Kinnevik sold a 7.2% stake in the telecoms operator.

Barclays rose 3.2% on starting a suspended 1-billion-pound share buyback programme.

Shares of UK power generating companies Drax, Centrica and SSE plunged between 7.5% and 14% after the Financial Times reported that the British government could extend the windfall tax to power generators.

(Reporting by Susan Mathew and Shreyashi Sanyal in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila and Frank Jack Daniel)


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