Markets

Europe stocks recover after weak economic data; FTSE still lower after worst day since 2016

Key Points
  • The White House released a list of EU products it plans to target with tariffs on Wednesday, intensifying the Trump administration's global trade battles.
  • The decision came after the World Trade Organization (WTO) granted the U.S. permission to tax as much as $7.5 billion of European exports annually.
  • The prospect of the EU responding in kind to the U.S. is likely to fuel concerns about slowing global growth.

European stocks recovered ground late Thursday afternoon even as weak economic data compounded uncertainty arising from the U.S. announcement that it would impose billions of dollars' worth of tariffs on exports from the European Union.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 was 0.01% lower by the close of trade on Thursday. The FTSE 100 in London shed 0.6 percent to finish at 7078.

A host of economic data on Thursday worsened the already troublesome conditions for risk assets, showing euro zone business growth stalling in September as an ongoing contraction in manufacturing begins to affect the services industry.

Markit September final composite PMI came in at 50.1, down from 51.9 in August, while services PMI slipped to 51.6 from 53.5 the previous month. German and French services PMI both missed analyst expectations, coming in at 51.4 (versus 52.5 forecast) and 51.1 (versus 51.6 forecast) respectively. Figures out of Spain showed that its services sector grew at a slower pace in September, cooling from August's five-month high to come in at 53.3, down from 54.3.

Figures above the 50 mark represent growth. Italy's service sector bucked the trend, with growth accelerating slightly in September.

On Wall Street Thursday, stocks dropped to their lows of the day after the release of the U.S.'s own disappointing economic data. The Institute for Supply Management said its reading on the U.S. services sector fell last month to its lowest level level since August 2016.

Wednesday's drop

European markets took heavy losses on Wednesday, with the Stoxx 600 posting its worst day of the year and Britain's FTSE 100 recording its biggest single-day loss since 2016. The plunge began on the back of weak manufacturing data out of the U.S. and was compounded by news of impending tariffs and bleak economic forecasts for Germany.

The White House released a list of EU products it plans to target with tariffs on Wednesday, intensifying the Trump administration's global trade battles.

The action escalates conflicts the Trump administration has waged around the globe as it tries to get major trade partners to change their practices. The U.S. is also locked in a trade war with China as it struggles to strike a new agreement with the world's second-largest economy.

Ted Baker shares plunge

In terms of individual stocks, France's Remy Cointreau jumped 6.4% to top the Stoxx 600, while H&M shares also added 53.9% after reporting its first quarterly profit rise in two years. Airbus gained 4.6%.

Britain's DS Smith sank to the bottom of the European blue-chip index, falling 5.6%.