PARIS: European shares ended slightly lower on Thursday as rising bond yields and weak results from France’s Atos dampened the tech sector, although positive Linde and Siemens earnings along with improving trends for travel stocks helped limit broader losses.
The pan-European STOXX 600 index closed 0.2% lower, with the heavyweight technology sector among the top drags.
Tech stocks sank 1.1%, deepening losses after strong US inflation data created space for a more hawkish Federal Reserve and pushed up sovereign yields across the globe.
Losses in Atos, which slid 4.5%, also weighed on the tech sector. The IT consultancy firm took total writedowns of 2.4 billion euros ($2.74 billion) in the second half of 2021.
“Technology stocks suffered the biggest blow as underlying inflationary pressures remain strong and support expectations for hotter reports over the next month or two,” said Edward Moya, senior market analyst at OANDA.
Still, gains in economically sensitive sectors helped avert wider setbacks in European shares. Travel and leisure and chemicals led regional gains.
Easing COVID-19 mandates in the United States sent positive cues to travel stocks, which rose 1.4% and were the best performers for the day. Chemical stocks rose 1.2% on positive earnings from US-German firm Linde.
Shares of the world’s largest industrial gas firm jumped 3.0% after it said it was targeting 10%-13% growth in adjusted earnings per share (EPS) in 2022, after reporting better-than-expected fourth-quarter earnings.
A positive fourth-quarter earnings season has helped the STOXX 600 recoup some of its losses following a sharp tech-driven rout at the beginning of the year.
Shares of Siemens jumped 4.7%, marking their best one-day percentage gain in nearly 13 months, after the engineering and technology group said it was seeing “extraordinary” order intake from its customers.
European healthcare stocks were flat. AstraZeneca jumped 3.4% as the drugmaker forecast higher 2022 sales and posted a better-than-expected quarterly profit.
Pernod Ricard fell 0.7%, weighing on blue-chip euro zone stocks. The French spirits group forecast strong sales growth in its 2022 fiscal year, but flagged a slightly softer start to the Chinese lunar holiday.
Credit Suisse tumbled 6.6% after warning of weak 2022 earnings as it ended last year with a quarterly loss of $2.2 billion.
Unilever slid 1.3% as it warned of a hit to profit margins this year and ruled out big acquisitions.