European shares retreat as Trump’s China response awaited

(Reuters) – European shares fell on Friday, with investor nerves ahead of U.S. President Donald Trump’s response to China over its national security law for Hong Kong taking some of the shine off May’s stock rally.

FILE PHOTO: The German share price index DAX graph is pictured at the stock exchange in Frankfurt, Germany, May 26, 2020. REUTERS/Staff

The pan-European STOXX 600 index fell 1.4%, with the week’s outperformers — travel & leisure .SXTP, banks .SX7P and automakers .SXAP — leading the decline.

Trump said he would hold a news conference on China later on Friday. Investors fear a U.S. response could further damage Sino-U.S. relations and cloud the prospect for economic recovery from a coronavirus-led slump.

China warned of countermeasures, and added that a U.S. bill proposing to sanction Chinese officials over their treatment of the Uighur minority severely interfered in its internal affairs.

“Today’s press conference could well up the ante if President Trump signs off on that bill as well as implement further measures that might hint that the U.S. is keen to send the Chinese a message,” said Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets.

Hopes of a global economic recovery, as policymakers unleashed stimulus programmes and several countries emerged from lockdowns, helped the STOXX 600 mark a 3% gain in May.

Germany’s auto-heavy DAX .GDAXI outperformed with a 6.8% monthly rise as many investors bought beaten-down cyclical stocks after improving economic data.

Coffee maker JDE Peet’s BV JDEP.AS, one of the few big companies to go public during the coronavirus crisis, jumped 13.8% on its market debut, valuing it at 15.6 billion euros.

Among decliners, Hugo Boss AG (BOSSn.DE) fell 9.1% after Jefferies downgraded the stock to “hold”, saying its performance improvement will be derailed by two years due to the pandemic.

Renault SA (RENA.PA) slid 7.7% on news it was launching talks with unions to restructure several French car plants and confirmed plans to cut around 15,000 jobs worldwide.

Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu and Shounak Dasgupta and Catherine Evans

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