Stocks Fall as Merkel Makes Clear Her Position on Greece
LONDON -- European equity markets are set to end the week on a negative note Friday, extending the morning's losses heading into the U.S. open after German Chancellor Angela Merkel splashed cold water on any optimism surrounding Greece after she said the country must stick to its commitments if it wants to stay in the euro. Broader pessimism surrounding hopes for the global recovery has benchmark indices on the back foot from the open today, and an upward revision of U.K. GDP data, showing the economy contracted just 0.5% compared to the previously thought 0.7%, did little to help. Today the Spanish IBEX (INDEX: ^IBEX) is one of the worst performers, down 0.7%.
As always, the following price moves are based on this morning's European trading.
The Spanish banking sector is leading losses today, with fears growing around the eurozone debt crisis. With this, Bankia (OTC: BNKXF.PK) is once again the worst-performing stock, down 5.6% amid concerns that it could be forced to shut down as a new law is set to pass meaning the country's bank bailout fund will have the power to shut down those lenders that are not profitable within two years.
Mining stocks have also been weighing on the markets today, as fears surrounding the global economic recovery and the potential impact on demand for commodities puts pressure on the sector. This was bad for iron ore producers as the ferrous metal dropped to less than $100 per tonne yesterday for the first time in over three years. The London market, where miners are heavily weighted, is seeing some of the deepest losses in the sector, with Eurasian Natural Resources (OTC: EURNY.PK) leading, down 4.2%.
On a more positive note, Nokia (NYS: NOK) is building on the week's gains, up 3.2% today and over 10% this past week after news Wednesday that Verizon Wireless will be selling the company's latest handset, which will be using the Windows 8 operating system, when it is released in early September. Nokia has seen a series of problems and low sales of its Lumia range of smartphones hit profits and share price alike during the past few months, losing ground to Apple iPhones and Google Android units. This recent news has gained traction in the market as a reason for investors to buy the highly sold stock.
Elsewhere, the world's second-largest bottling company, Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling (NYS: CCH) , is up 2.3% today as dip buying and bargain hunting support the share price following a few sessions of weakness after weak earnings results. Earlier this week the company reported first-half profit falling 25% and sales volumes dropping 2% year-on-year to 1.01 billion cases.
This however was broadly in line with expectations, and the sell-off was short-lived as investors began to focus on more positive aspects of the report, with CCH maintaining its guidance on free cash flow and investments at 1.45 billion euros, while noting sales actually grew for the fourth consecutive quarter, 1%, to 3.43 billion euros.
As always, this morning's European news saw some winners and losers -- and perhaps some European buying opportunities. Indeed, legendary investor Warren Buffett has recently spent more than $1 billion buying the stock of a prominent European large-cap.
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