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European stocks close sharply lower on US-China trade uncertainty, weak earnings

Key Points
  • U.S. and Chinese negotiators are set to resume face-to-face trade talks on Tuesday, though expectations of a significant breakthrough this week remain low.
  • The Fed is widely expected to lower borrowing costs this week by a quarter point for the first time since the height of the financial crisis.
  • Back in Europe, the pound hits a 28-month low as fears of the U.K. leaving the European Union without a deal escalate.

European stocks closed sharply lower on Tuesday as investors digested earnings and renewed U.S.-China trade uncertainty. Market players also positioned themselves ahead to key interest rate decision from the U.S. Federal Reserve.

European Markets: FTSE, GDAXI, FCHI, IBEX

The pan-European Stoxx 600 closed provisionally off by 1.45%. Autos and banks led the losses, both off more than 2%, as all sectors and major bourses traded firmly in the red. Germany's DAX was among the worst-performing bourses after a series of weak earnings from German corporate giants, trading over 2% lower.

U.S. and Chinese negotiators are set to resume face-to-face trade talks on Tuesday, though expectations of a significant breakthrough this week remain low.

Hopes of a resolution took a further blow on Tuesday as U.S. President Donald Trump unleashed a series of tweets claiming that China is not buying more U.S. agricultural products as it promised to do, and may be slow-walking the talks as it awaits the outcome of the 2020 presidential election.

On Wall Street, stocks fell after the U.S. leader renewed his attacks on China. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell by around 20 points while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq indexes were also in negative territory.

Investors are also anticipating an interest rate cut from the Fed this week. The U.S. central bank is widely expected to lower borrowing costs on Wednesday by a quarter point for the first time in over a decade.

Back in Europe, the pound hit a 28-month low on Monday as fears of the U.K. leaving the European Union without a deal escalated. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the current divorce deal was dead and cautioned that unless the EU agreed to renegotiate, Britain would leave without a deal on October 31. The pound is currently trading around $1.2155.

Earnings in focus

Centrica led the loss in Europe after reporting a net loss of £550 million for the first half of the year along with a 49% decline in adjusted operating profit. It also announced CEO Iain Conn will step down. Shares of the company dived 19%.

Siemens Gamesa also plunged, down nearly 18%, after slashing its full-year profitability guidance and reporting a third-quarter margin well below its target range.

U.K.-based BP posted second-quarter underlying replacement cost profit, used as a proxy for net profit, of $2.8 billion, beating the $2.5 billion expected by analysts polled by Reuters and sending the energy company's stock 3% higher.

Bayer confirmed its outlook for 2019 but struck a slightly less optimistic tone. The German pharmaceutical giant reported earnings before tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) before special items advancing by 25% to 2.9 billion euros. The company now faces 18,400 lawsuits in connection with its weed killer Roundup. Bayer stock fell nearly 4%.

Lufthansa posted a drop in second-quarter earnings on rising fuel costs and price wars, with adjusted earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) falling to 754 million euros from 1 billion euros a year earlier. The airline's share price slipped 6%.