European markets decline at the close amid NAFTA negotiations; GAM drops 10.8%

  • Across the board, European bourses saw red by the close with the U.K.'s FTSE 100 off 0.62 percent, the French CAC 40 down 0.42 percent and the German DAX slipping 0.54 percent.
  • GAM fell to the bottom of the pan-European benchmark after Credit Suisse halves its price target for the stock.
  • U.S. and Canadian leaders expressed optimism that ongoing talks over the revised terms of the NAFTA would meet a Friday deadline.

European stocks finished Thursday's session in the red, as investors monitored corporate earnings and a looming deadline for a U.S.-Canada trade deal.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 index ended down 0.32 percent provisionally, with the majority of the region's sectors in negative territory. Telecoms led the losses, off 1.7 percent, with almost all of the sector's stocks closing lower.

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Across the board, European bourses saw red by the close with the U.K.'s FTSE 100 off 0.62 percent, the French CAC 40 down 0.42 percent and the German DAX slipping 0.54 percent. In peripheral markets, the Spanish IBEX and Italy's FTSE MIB, each posted declines of 1 percent or more.

Looking at individual stocks, Swiss asset management giant GAM was the biggest loser on the pan-European benchmark after Credit Suisse halved its price target for the stock. On Tuesday, GAM said it would next month begin the liquidation of the absolute return funds it froze in July after suspending Investment Director Tim Haywood. Shares slumped 10.83 percent.

Traders have also been keeping abreast of fresh corporate earnings releases. Swedish radiosurgery firm Elekta was among the worst performers in Europe, off 10.5 percent, after posting an unexpected profit miss. The firm's first-quarter profit fell to 238 million Swedish krona ($26 million) from $281 million.

And shares of French property investment group Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield fell after reporting first-half results. The firm, which recently finalized the acquisition of Westfield Corporation, posted a jump in profits, but shares were under pressure following a price target cut from Morgan Stanley. The stock fell down more than 4 percent.

In other corporate news, the U.K.'s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) gave a provisional green light to SSE and Innogy-owned Npower's proposed merger, which would see the two utility giants create a powerhouse in the country. Both firms finished a touch above the flatline.

On the data front, euro area data showed that economic confidence in the region fell in August.

Trade talks

Market focus is largely attuned to global trade developments, amid easing business tensions in North America and Europe.

The leaders of the U.S. and Canada expressed optimism on Wednesday that ongoing talks over the revised terms of the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) would meet a Friday deadline. This follows on from a bilateral agreement between the U.S. and Mexico at the start of the trading week.

Canada re-joined talks to modernize the 24-year-old NAFTA accord on Tuesday, with market sentiment boosted by the improving mood music surrounding the negotiations. The White House has said it wants to settle NAFTA discussions before then negotiating with China.

Around the Europe market close, stocks in the U.S. tumbled with the Dow off more than 100 points. The moves on Wall Street comes despite Amazon breaking above $2,000 a share for the first time earlier in the session.