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Europe finishes deep in the red, with stocks hitting a 2-year low; Airbus falls 4.5%

Key Points
  • Falling to its lowest since at least December 2016, the pan-European STOXX 600 finished down 1.45 percent, with all major sectors posting sharp losses. 
  • The Bank of England held interest rates steady, with the U.K.'s economic outlook highly uncertain less than 100 days before the country leaves the European Union.
  • Markets around the globe fell after news emerged that the Fed had raised rates for the fourth time in 2018.

European markets closed Thursday's trade deep in the red, echoing the negative sessions seen in markets overseas. 

Falling to its lowest since at least December 2016, the pan-European STOXX 600 finished down 1.45 percent, with all major sectors posting sharp losses. 

Looking at bourses in the region, the FTSE 100 slipped 0.8 percent, while the French CAC 40 and German DAX extended losses, down 1.78 and 1.44 percent respectively. All peripheral markets closed sharply lower too.

European Markets: FTSE, GDAXI, FCHI, IBEX

Looking across Europe, autos, banks, basic resources, technology and travel all saw sectoral drops of 2 percent or more each by the close. The retail sector also hit fresh lows, plummeting to its lowest since October 2014 during the session. Inditex, Next and Dufry AG were some of the sector's worst performers, all closing down 3 percent each or more.

Europe's basic resources led the losses, down 2.74 percent by the close after the U.S. Treasury said it will lift sanctions on aluminum giant Rusal. Antofagasta, Boliden and ArcelorMittal all posted sharp losses, all ending trade down more than 3.5 percent each.

Energy stocks came under pressure, as both Brent and U.S. light crude fell over 4 percent each around Europe's close, as concerns surrounding oversupply and the outlook for the market's demand weighed. 

Looking at individual stocks, Airbus shares slumped 9 percent Thursday morning on reports the company is being investigated by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) for "inappropriate practices." By the market close, shares had pared losses to sit 4.44 percent lower.

The STOXX 600's biggest loser was Carnival, which dropped 10.83 percent after posting its latest earnings update. In the release, the cruise operator said that it expected adjusted earnings per share for 2019's first quarter to be between 40 cents and 44 cents; below analyst estimates of 45 cents per share, Reuters reported.

Central bank influence

Switching focus, central banking news has remained in focus on Thursday. During the session, the Bank of England (BOE) held interest rates steady, with the U.K.'s economic outlook highly uncertain less than 100 days before the country leaves the European Union.

As widely expected the BOE's nine-member Monetary Policy Committee (MPC), led by Mark Carney, unanimously voted to leave interest rates unchanged at 0.75 percent.

Stateside, officials at the Federal Reserve voted to hike interest rates by 0.25 percent on Wednesday, although President Donald Trump had been pressing the central bank for a more dovish policy outlook.

Following that Fed move, Asian markets saw shares slide on Thursday, meantime Wall Street extended its losses, with the Dow tumbling some 300 points around Europe's close.