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European stocks tumbled Monday as a rapid escalation of U.S.-China trade tensions continues to spook investors worldwide.
The pan-European Stoxx 600 traded 2.3% lower during the afternoon session, with all sectors and major bourses firmly in the red.
Investors have been flocking to safe haven assets such as the yen, bonds and gold, with China allowing the yuan skidding to 7 against the dollar, its lowest in 11 years. Wall Street on Friday closed out its worst week of 2019 so far.
Global stocks have suffered volatile sessions since U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday announced his plans to slap 10% tariffs on China's remaining $300 billion of exports to the United States, announcing the decision on Twitter having reportedly overruled his own advisors.
China has historically controlled its currency, and the decision to allow it to fall has been seen as a retaliation to Trump's tariffs. Bloomberg news reported on Monday that Beijing has also halted imports of U.S. agricultural products.
Stocks on Wall Street saw a sharp downturn on Monday after China's currency measures. The Nasdaq traded more than 2.75% lower, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 were both down by more than 2%.
With earnings season winding down, HSBC on Monday announced the surprise departure of CEO John Flint, saying the bank needed a change at the top to address a "challenging global environment" despite posting a 16% rise in half-year profit. The bank's London-listed stock traded 2% lower by Monday afternoon.
In terms of individual stock performance, British stockbroker Hargreaves Lansdown slipped nearly 5% ahead of its annual results on Thursday, as the firm faces questions over its role in promoting an ailing fund run by high-profile manager Neil Woodford, which was forced to suspend withdrawals in June.
At the bottom of the Stoxx 600, Cartier owner Richemont saw its shares slide 6%. The Swiss luxury goods maker has seen its sales negatively impacted by Hong Kong protests, which have escalated in recent days.
At the other end of the European blue chip index, Finnish pharmaceuticals company Orion saw its shares rise 2.5%.
On the data front, Spain's service sector growth eased in July, according to PMI (Purchasing Managers' Index) data released Monday morning. However, employment growth rebounded from June's 32-month low.
Italian services activity grew by more than expected in July, but the news was not so promising for France and Germany. French services PMI figures slipped back from its peak in July, while German private sector activity came in at its weakest in more than six years.
In Britain, growth in the nation's dominant services sector unexpectedly accelerated to a nine-month high in July, but at 51.4, still stands well below its long-run average of 54.9.