NEW YORK, United States (AFP) — Europe’s stock markets struggled to find direction Wednesday as investors digested downbeat German economic data following an uneventful State of the Union address by US President Donald Trump.
Frankfurt dropped 0.3 percent as official figures showed that industrial orders in Germany fell back in December, the latest sign of a slowdown in Europe’s largest economy.
London stocks slipped by 0.1 percent meanwhile, with online supermarket Ocado hit by a warehouse fire, and lingering concerns over Britain leaving the European Union without a deal next month.
Paris also declined, along with Wall Street, which finished a quiet session modestly down.
German statistics office Destatis said factory orders were down by 1.6 percent in December from the previous month.
But there was some brighter news in the data as well.
Excluding volatile large orders for items like aircraft there was a 3.5 percent increase in new business. Consumer goods firms booked a rebound after two successive monthly falls, gaining 4.2 percent.
Despite these pluses, “the message remains clear: German manufacturing is suffering, especially in intermediate goods, where the three-month rolling change slipped further in December,” Pantheon Macroeconomics said in a note.
Mercedes-Benz maker Daimler added to the bad news, reporting its worst year since 2015.
Analysts also pointed to continued anxiety over Brexit. The odds of British Prime Minister Theresa May’s getting concessions from EU leaders at a Thursday meeting in Brussels seemed to shrink further after comments by EU leader Donald Tusk.
He said there was a “special place in Hell” waiting for those “who promoted Brexit without even a sketch of a plan how to carry it out safely”.
The comment roused British politicians, but markets were less impressed.
Market watchers said President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address on Tuesday night did not have much effect on stocks.
Investors took a wait-and-see view of the administration’s latest commentary on trade talks with China, which are set to resume next week.
A note from Eurasia Group said Trump gave “little indication that he is preparing to deviate from his position on major policy issues” and predicted Washington would remain “volatile” in 2019 as the White House faces opposition from congressional Democrats over immigration and other hot-button issues.
– Key figures around 2140 GMT –
New York – Dow: DOWN 0.1 percent at 25,390.30 (close)
New York – S&P 500: DOWN 0.2 percent at 2,731.61 (close)
New York – Nasdaq: DOWN 0.4 percent at 7,375.28 (close)
London – FTSE 100: DOWN 0.1 percent at 7,173.09 (close)
Frankfurt – DAX 30: DOWN 0.4 percent at 11,324.72 (close)
Paris – CAC 40: DOWN 0.1 percent at 5,079.05 (close)
EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 0.1 percent at 3,212.75 (close)
Tokyo – Nikkei 225: UP 0.1 percent at 20,874.06 (close)
Hong Kong – Hang Seng: Closed for a public holiday
Shanghai – Composite: Closed for a public holiday
Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.1370 from $1.1406 at 2200 GMT Tuesday
Dollar/yen: UP at 109.97 yen from 109.96
Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.2936 from $1.2945
Euro/pound: DOWN at 87.84 pence from 88.09 pence
Oil – Brent Crude: UP 71 cents at $62.69 per barrel
Oil – West Texas Intermediate: UP 35 cents at $54.01 per barrel
© Agence France-Presse