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European markets under pressure after Trump ousts Tillerson; Iliad shares fall 9%

Sam Meredith
  • The pan-European STOXX 600 extended losses, dropping some 0.7 percent during afternoon deals, with almost all sectors in negative territory.
  • E.ON surged towards the top of the European benchmark after the company said it would submit a 5.2 billion euro ($6.4 billion) voluntary takeover offer for minority shareholders in Innogy in the second quarter of 2018.

European equities fell into the red on Tuesday, as investors reacted to news that President Donald Trump had sacked U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson .

The pan-European STOXX 600 extended losses, dropping some 0.7 percent during afternoon deals, with almost all sectors in negative territory.

In markets, all major bourses posted solid losses, with both the U.K.'s FTSE 100 and Germany's DAX slipping more than 0.7 percent each.

Iliad slips over 9%

Insurance stocks fell into the red amid earnings news. Hannover Rueck led the losses in the sector after it posted detailed full-year results shortly before the opening bell. Shares of the German reinsurer were down 3.5 percent. Telecoms, household goods and chemicals were the worst performers, all falling 1 percent or more as a sector.

Europe's utility companies however held onto gains amid takeover news. E.ON jumped toward the top of the European benchmark after the company said it would submit a 5.2 billion euro ($6.4 billion) voluntary takeover offer for minority shareholders in Innogy .

Shares of E.ON were up some 4.6 percent. Earlier this week, the German-listed firm and RWE announced a far-reaching deal to effectively break-up RWE's energy networks and retail arm, Innogy, and divide its assets between them.

Basic resources also held strong, as metal prices rose during afternoon trade. The same could not be said for oil prices, which fell in afternoon trade. Both Brent and U.S. crude were off more than 1 percent each.

Looking at individual stocks, France's Iliad slumped to the bottom of the index after the company reported higher annual sales and profits during 2017. The telecoms group also said the firm was in the final phase of preparing its Italy launch before the summer, Reuters reported. Its shares were down more than 9 percent.

Economic data

Stateside, markets were on edge in afternoon trade, following news that Tillerson had been ousted as secretary of state Tuesday, marking the end to a tumultuous tenure as America's top diplomat . Trump plans to appoint CIA Director Mike Pompeo to replace the former Exxon Mobil chief executive, with Deputy CIA Director Gina Haspel poised to run the spy agency.

Meanwhile, a closely-tracked measure of U.S. consumer price inflation rose in line with expectations in February. The core consumer price index (CPI) showed prices were 1.8 percent higher last month when compared to the same period last year. The data is seen as likely to reaffirm the Federal Reserve's case for three interest rate hikes in 2018. On Wall Street , markets were relatively mixed.

Back in Europe, the U.K.'s Office for Budget Responsibility published its spring economic and fiscal outlook on Tuesday. Meantime, Finance Minister Philip Hammond stated that the U.K. economy would grow slightly more quickly than previously expected during the course of 2018. Growth forecasts for 2019 and 2020 meantime were kept unchanged at 1.3 percent



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