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European Tech Stocks Reach One-Year High on U.S.-China Truce

Sam Unsted and Kasper Viita

(Bloomberg) -- European technology stocks reached the highest level since June 2018 after the U.S. and China signaled a truce in the trade dispute, and the U.S. said it would permit some companies to do business with blacklisted Huawei Technologies Co.

Chipmakers in Europe have taken a hit since the U.S. blacklisted China's Huawei and scores of its affiliates around the world in May. That decision also exacerbated trade tensions between the U.S. and China, hurting chipmakers since China is a key end market for their components. Two silicon wafer companies, the U.K.’s IQE Plc and Germany’s Siltronic AG, both warned last month about the impact of the ban, and the broader effect of the trade war on the semiconductor sector.

The Stoxx 600 Technology sub-index rose as much as 2.5%, the most intraday since April 24, with semiconductor firms leading the charge. AMS AG, STMicroelectronics and Infineon Technologies AG all surged, as did chip equipment makers like ASML Holding NV and ASM International NV.

Conversely, telecoms equipment groups Nokia Oyj and Ericsson AB have benefited from the blacklisting of Huawei as it removed a key competitor for contracts to build the next generation of 5G mobile networks. Those two were among the worst performers in a mostly green tech sector on Monday morning.

Here’s what analysts are saying:

Cowen

Curtailing restrictions on Huawei “could temporarily improve sentiment” on the semiconductor capital equipment group. Although most of these companies, such as ASML and Applied Materials Inc., don’t sell directly to Huawei, they’ve been affected by recent semiconductor supply chain disruptions, the analysts said.

Morgan Stanley

“A resumption in trade talks is a step in the right direction, although it will not cure the fundamental problem of weaker demand and excess inventory that continues to plague semis. A resolution on trade could provide an important catalyst to help demand, but as of right now it feels like status quo.”

Oddo

“The readacross is positive for the smartphone market and the semiconductor market as the U.S. and China converge toward a deal. The halt on additional tariffs should also bring some stability to the semiconductor market.”

Liberum

“These moves are positive for the entire tech industry, especially semiconductor suppliers. The semiconductor down cycle is currently at its trough” with a new up cycle expected to start from the second half of the year, the analysts said.

“The removal of sanctions on Huawei and the holding off of additional tariffs is likely to strengthen the recovery in coming months.’’

New Street

“First of all, it is worth noting this is not a full lift; tensions will remain. Second, it means China will accelerate the development of alternative supply chains and ecosystems. It means investments will probably accelerate, to the benefit of the semicap equipment industry.’’

“On the 5G front, it means things will get back into motion. Huawei will likely lose some market share in Europe, where operators will continue to buy from Huawei but reduce exposure to the vendor, while European players will likely lose ground in China in similar magnitude.’’

Baader Helvea“The positive element certainly is Trump’s softened stance on Huawei, which has not been expected ahead of the meeting. This may raise hopes that a technology war can be averted. However, the Huawei issue will probably be part of any trade deal and may only be addressed at a later stage when other stumbling stones have been resolved.’’

(Adds analyst comments.)

To contact the reporters on this story: Sam Unsted in London at sunsted@bloomberg.net;Kasper Viita in London at kviita1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Beth Mellor at bmellor@bloomberg.net, Monica Houston-Waesch

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