Markets

European markets close lower amid earnings; Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank merger talks collapse

Key Points
  • The pan-European Stoxx 600 ended down around 0.24% during afternoon deals, with most sectors and major bourses in negative territory.
  • Nokia reported a surprise quarterly loss on Thursday, citing tough competition in its core networks business. Shares of the Finnish telecom network equipment maker tumbled exactly 9% on the news.
  • Merger talks between Germany's top two lenders, Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank, ended in failure on Thursday.

European stocks were trading lower on Thursday as market participants monitored another deluge of corporate earnings.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 closed provisionally down 0.24% during deals, with most sectors and major bourses in negative territory.

Europe's construction stocks were among those leading the losses, down 0.96%. Britain's third-largest homebuilder Taylor Wimpey saw its shares lose more than 5%, after research from real estate website Zoopla showed house sales in London had plunged 20% since 2015, with house prices in the U.K. capital at a 7 year low.

British construction firm Balfour Beatty's stock was down more than 2% on the back of the news.

Market focus is also largely attuned to corporate results, with investors reacting to another flurry of reports.

Nokia plummeted to the bottom of the European benchmark after reporting a surprise quarterly loss on Thursday, citing tough competition in its core networks business. Shares of the Finnish telecom network equipment maker tumbled 9%.

Shares of British bank Barclays were down 3.6% after first-quarter profit fell 10% compared to a year ago. Elsewhere in the sector, UBS reported a $1.14 billion net profit for the first three months of the year as improving market conditions at the end of the quarter helped to soften a hit to trading revenues and client activity. The 27% drop in earnings for Switzerland's largest bank still beat analysts' expectations. Shares closed 1.2% higher during afternoon deals.

Merger talks between Germany's top two lenders, Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank, ended in failure on Thursday. The banks cited the need for extra capital, restructuring costs and execution risks as the reasons why the merger would not be in their best interests. Commerzbank's shares were down 2.29%, while shares of Deutsche Bank were around 1.5 % lower on the news.

Meanwhile, the proposed merger between Sainsbury and Asda was blocked by the U.K.'s competition watchdog on Thursday. The Competition and Markets Authority said the merger would raise prices for consumers and lead to longer checkout queues. Shares of Sainsbury were down almost 4.7%.

On the data front, Spain's unemployment rate edged closer to 15% over the first three months of 2019. The official figures continue to underline a weak link in the economy days before a hotly contested election.

The rate rose to 14.7% in the three-month period to March, up from 14.45% in the final three months of 2018.