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Europe holds steady by the close as US-China trade conflict escalates

Key Points
  • Following a choppy trading session, the pan-European Stoxx 600 index closed up 0.11 percent.
  • Major sectors were pointing in different directions when the trading day ended.
  • President Donald Trump announced he will impose tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports.
  • China said it has no choice but to retaliate against the latest round of tariffs.

European stocks were muted by Tuesday's market close, as investors mulled over the recent announcements from the U.S. and China in their tit-for-tat trade war.

Following a choppy trading session, the pan-European Stoxx 600 index closed up 0.11 percent. Major sectors, meanwhile, were pointing in different directions when the trading day ended.

The U.K.'s FTSE 100 closed down 0.03 percent, while the French CAC 40 rose 0.28 percent and the German DAX popped 0.51 percent. Most markets in peripheral Europe ended in the black.

European Markets: FTSE, GDAXI, FCHI, IBEX

In recent sessions, market focus across the world has been largely attuned to developments in the escalating trade conflict between U.S. and China.

On Monday, news emerged that the U.S. administration would impose 10 percent tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports, and those duties would go onto rise to 25 percent at the end of the year. The White House removed about 300 goods from a previously proposed list of affected products, including smart watches, some chemicals and other products such as bicycle helmets and high chairs.

On Tuesday, the Chinese Commerce Ministry said the country had no choice but to retaliate against this latest round of tariffs, so it could safeguard its rights and interest in a free trade world. Consequently, markets briefly dropped in afternoon trade, after reports materialized that Beijing would inflict new tariffs on American goods, worth $60 billion, effective from later this month, according to Reuters.

Despite the news, U.S. stocks posted solid gains around Europe's market close, with the Dow up in the triple digits as investors considered the latest tariffs to be not as bad as previously feared. Following the China tariffs report, stocks in Europe came under sharp pressure, but bounced back a short while later.

Zalando slumps 13%

Looking at individual stocks, Zalando shares tumbled 13.2 percent, after the retailer cut its 2018 guidance for the second time in two months. The group said the summer heat wave delayed a switch to the winter season and will impact full-year earnings.

Swiss chemicals firm Clariant meanwhile soared almost 8 percent, after announcing that it will enter into a new joint venture in high performance materials with new shareholder, Saudi Arabia's SABIC. Sticking with the top gainers, Schibsted skyrocketed 9.1 percent after the media firm announced that it would spin off its international online classified operations, which would be established as an independent listed firm.

Osram rose 5.87 percent after releasing an upbeat statement on its semiconductors, saying that from 2020 onwards, its Opto Semiconductors division expects revenue growth to be around 10 percent, with an adjusted EBITDA margin between 23 and 29 percent.

U.K. broadcaster ITV fell 3 percent after Berenberg cut its target price on the stock, while IWG fell over 6.5 percent after Credit Suisse cuts its rating to "underperform" from "neutral," Reuters reported.

European Central Bank President Mario Draghi warned Tuesday that banks in the euro zone should reduce their stock of non-performing loans further to boost lending and improve profitability.

Ferrari hosted its first capital markets day since the passing of former CEO Sergio Marchionne earlier this summer. The Italian supercar's stock underwent volatile trade on Tuesday — at one point trading was briefly suspended — as it presented a hotly anticipated mid-term business plan. It unveiled two new Monza models, the single-seater SP1 and two-seater SP2. Shares built upon their gains, closing up some 4 percent.