Europe finishes sharply lower after Tillerson ousting rattles markets; Iliad tumbles 10%

  • The pan-European STOXX 600 extended losses, provisionally closing down 0.98 percent, with almost all sectors ending the day in negative territory.
  • E.ON jumped almost 4 percent by the close 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.
  • Markets were rattled after news emerged that President Trump had fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

European equities tumbled by Tuesday's market close, as investors digested the news that President Donald Trump had sacked U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

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The pan-European STOXX 600 extended losses to provisionally close down 0.98 percent, with almost all sectors ending the day in negative territory.

In markets, all major bourses posted solid losses, with the U.K.'s FTSE 100 slipping 1.05 percent, France's CAC 40 falling 0.64 percent and Germany's DAX dropping 1.59 percent.

Iliad slips 10%

Insurance finished the session down 1.36 percent amid earnings news. Hannover Rueck slipped to the bottom of the sector after posting full-year results. Shares of the German reinsurer closed down 4.2 percent. Telecoms was the worst performing sector, closing down 1.6 percent.

Basic resources held strong, making it the only sector to eke out gains, as metal prices rose during trade. The same could not be said for oil prices, which fell into the red during afternoon trade.

Looking at individual stocks, 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 popped up 3.87 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.

France's Iliad slumped to the bottom of the index despite the company reporting 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 closed down 10 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 came under pressure around Europe's market close.

The U.K.'s Office for Budget Responsibility published its spring economic and fiscal outlook on Tuesday. 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 were kept unchanged at 1.3 percent

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