Chinese Export Data Hits Stocks Hard

LONDON -- European equity markets are set to end the week on a negative note Friday, putting an end to a fairly positive performance over the past few sessions as weak Chinese trade data overnight casts a shadow over the global economic recovery. Data from the Asian giant showed export growth collapsing last month, climbing just 1%, while imports grew 4.7% At the same time, new local currency lending fell from 919.8 billion Yuan in June to just 540.1 billion Yuan in July -- all adding to concerns that global economic growth is not as investors would hope.

In Europe, peripheral countries are leading losses, with the Spanish IBEX (INDEX: ^IBEX) the worst-performing benchmark index, down more than 1%.

As always, the following price moves are based on this morning's European trading.

Danish biotechnology firm Novozymes (NASDAQOTH: NVZMY.PK) is almost 4% lower today, hit by a report suggesting that the United Nations called for an output cut in ethanol biofuel, for which Novozymes produces enzymes. A report in the Financial Times said the UN has called for a suspension of U.S. government-mandated ethanol output because of rising corn prices.

Elsewhere, reinsurer Hannover Re (NASDAQOTH: HVRRY.PK) is down 3.5% after it reported second-quarter profits sliding 13% due to losses on hedging derivatives. The company said net income fell from 166.2 million euros last year to just 144 million euros, missing analyst estimates closer to 170 million euros.

On a more positive note, German manufacturer ThyssenKrupp (NASDAQOTH: TYEKF.PK) is up almost 7% after it reported profits that beat analyst estimates. The company said that earnings before interest and tax, or EBIT, fell almost 80% in the third quarter to 122 million euros, but this still came in much stronger than the 83 million euros predicted by most analysts.

At the same time, ThyssenKrupp reaffirmed its EBIT expectation for the full year, saying it should be in the "mid three-digit million euro range," which suggests that despite a high level of caution among its customers, it expects capital-goods business to continue to deliver a robust performance.

Finnish handset maker Nokia (NYS: NOK) is seeing yet another day of strength, up almost 3% after announcing this week that it will sell its Qt app-tools unit to Digia as it moves away from its own software creation efforts and becomes more reliant on the Microsoft Windows Phone system.

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