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MarketPulse Europe: Weak German Data, Earnings Updates Spook Market

Investing.com -- Recession worries have dragged Europe’s stocks off a two-month high in early trading Wednesday, after shockingly weak data on new orders to German manufacturers pointed to a weak start to 2019 for the region’s most important economy.

Incoming orders fell 1.6% on the month and were down 7.0% year-on-year, according to statistics agency Destatis.

At 04:10 AM ET (0945 GMT), the benchmark Euro Stoxx 50 was down 8 points, or 0.2%, at 3207.25. It had hit a two-month high on Tuesday, against a backdrop of stronger U.S. markets.

Automaker Daimler (DE:DAIGn) illustrated the trend, falling to the bottom of the Euro Stoxx 50 after reporting fourth-quarter operating profits down 22% on the year and 9% below consensus forecasts.

The maker of Mercedes-Benz cars predicted a difficult 2019, marked by high investment needs and expensive model launches.

Banks are also struggling as the slowdown pushes back the day when the European Central Bank can end the policy of negative interest rates that has hurt banks’ profitability. BNP Paribas (PA:BNPP) shares fell 0.8% after it lowered its 2020 targets for revenue and profits. It also said it would cut costs by another 600 million euros, over half of them at its corporate and investment bank, which swung to a loss in the fourth quarter.

BNP’s news also weighed on rivals Societe Generale (PA:SOGN) and Deutsche Bank (DE:DBKGn). However, it didn’t affect Dutch giant ING (AS:INGA), whose shares rose 5% after it reported stronger-than-expected earnings that drew a line under its problems last year with Dutch regulators, and with its Turkish and Russian units.

Also rising was Irish building materials group CRH (LON:CRH) after Cevian, Europe’s largest activist investor, said it had become the group’s second-largest shareholder.

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