European stocks mostly fall on disappointing manufacturing data
London - AFP
European stocks mostly fell on Wednesday on disappointing manufacturing data released on the eve of a key eurozone interest rate call, with investors also nervous over pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.
London slid on more bad news in the nation's supermarket sector, but Frankfurt rose as German sportswear giant Adidas unveiled plans to return 1.5 billion euros ($1.9 billion) to shareholders by 2017.
In afternoon trading, the British capital's benchmark FTSE 100 index was down 0.78 percent to stand at 6,571.38 points and the CAC 40 in Paris slumped 1.05 percent to 4,369.68 compared with Tuesday's close.
On the upside, Frankfurt's DAX 30 index rose 0.36 percent to 9,508.68 points, as Adidas shares rallied 1.3 percent to 59.74 euros.
"Many traders are sitting currently on the sidelines awaiting the monthly European Central Bank (ECB) meeting tomorrow," said analyst Markus Huber at the Peregrine & Black brokerage in London.
"Also tensions are remaining high in Hong Kong," he added.The euro retreated to $1.2609 from $1.2631 late Tuesday, hit partly by lacklustre eurozone manufacturing activity in September on the eve of the ECB decision.
The latest survey of leading indicators from manufacturing industries in the eurozone, the purchasing managers' index (PMI), gave a reading of 50.3 points, down from 50.7 points in August and the lowest for 14 months.
The data sparked fresh speculation that ECB chief Mario Draghi could unveil fresh stimulus measures.
"Mario Draghi will be the centre of attention at the ECB meeting tomorrow with markets betting on him to reveal the extent of quantitative easing to be taken up," said dealer Amir Khan at traders CurrenciesDirect.
"The US dollar however continues to retain strength as last week's GDP (gross domestic product) numbers were better than expected."
The euro had plunged on Tuesday to $1.2571 -- last seen in early September 2012 -- as eurozone inflation fell to a five-year low of 0.3 percent in September, signalling that the ECB may need more action to avert deflation.
In London on Wednesday, supermarket groups topped the FTSE 100 fallers board after Sainsbury posted weak first-half results.
Added to the gloom, rival Tesco revealed that Britain's Financial Conduct Authority regulator had launched a probe into the troubled supermarket chain after it massively overestimated its half-year profits forecast.
Shares in Sainsbury sank 6.0 percent to 236.20 pence and Tesco shed 4.0 percent to 178.85 pence, while peer Morrison dived 6.7 percent to 157.00 pence.
On the eurozone bond market, French 10-year yields were steady at 1.277 percent, down from 1.285 percent on Tuesday despite a budget statement which took a gloomy view of the outlook for deficit reduction and economic growth.
Meanwhile, Germany placed 10-year bonds at the lowest yield ever, at less than 1.0 percent for the first time, at 0.93 percent.
- Asia stocks mixed -
Asian equities also saw mixed fortunes, with Tokyo giving up earlier gains despite a surprise pick-up in business confidence and the dollar's breaching of 110 yen for the first time since 2008 amid growing confidence in the US economy.
Tokyo stocks ended 0.56 percent lower and Seoul sank 1.41 percent, while Sydney added 0.78 percent.
Hong Kong and Shanghai were shut for public holidays but markets are keeping a nervous watch on the southern Chinese financial hub as a pro-democracy protest moves into its fourth day.
US stocks opened lower Wednesday despite a solid report on private sector job growth, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average slipping 0.23 percent to 17,004.49 points after five minutes of trading.
The broad-based S&P 500 fell 0.29 percent to 1,966.48, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index declined 0.29 percent to 4,480.14.
The dollar meanwhile extended its run-up despite weak US indicators, climbing to 110.09 yen -- its highest since August 2008 -- as investors bet on an early rate rise by the US Federal Reserve as the economy picks up pace, while the Bank of Japan mulls easing measures to jumpstart growth at home.
However, it later pulled back to sit at 109.65 yen in London, against 109.64 yen late Tuesday.
The euro eased to 77.79 pence from 77.90 pence late on Tuesday, when it had hit a July 2012 low of 77.66 pence. The pound also fell to $1.6209 from $1.6213.
On the London Bullion Market, the price of gold slid to $1,208.50 an ounce from $1,216.50.