European shares fell on Tuesday as weak global factory data fanned economic slowdown fears, while markets were jittery on simmering U.S.-China tensions over Taiwan.
The pan-European STOXX 600 slipped 0.2%, a day after declining on concerns about a cooling global economy following disappointing euro zone manufacturing activity data.
On Tuesday, U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi arrived in Chinese-claimed Taiwan aboard a U.S. military aircraft, the first such visit in 25 years and one that risks pushing relations between Washington and Beijing to a new low.
“After the best month for STOXX 600 in July, European equities are giving back some of those gains to kick off August, suggesting the rally was slightly overdone,” said Victoria Scholar, head of investment at Interactive Investor.
“Although Pelosi’s visit could create a deeper strain between Beijing and Washington, it is unlikely to result in actual military conflict.”
Nonetheless, global markets were jittery, with U.S. stocks struggling for gains and the dollar and gold rallying.
“The fact that the timing coincides with renewed jitters about a recession following yesterday’s downbeat PMI indicators globally, investors are nervous about the possibility of China retaliating with fresh trade restrictions on U.S. imports,” said Raffi Boyadjian, lead investment analyst at brokerage XM.
In Europe, miners were among the biggest drags, falling 1.4% amid a drop in commodities’ prices as traders rushed to safer assets.
Semiconductor stocks such as ASML Holding, ASM International and BE Semiconductor fell between 1.2% and 2.2%.
Meanwhile, Moody’s Investors Service flagged an increased risk of stagflation in European Union countries.
Across European indexes, UK’S FTSE 100 fell the least among European peers thanks to bumper profits from oil giant BP, shares of which firmed 2.8%.
Maersk gained 2.1% after raising its 2022 profit guidance for a second time following a beat in quarterly revenue, as congested supply chains boost freight rates.
Ferrari gained 1.1% after beating earnings forecasts and reporting record orders for the second quarter, prompting the luxury sports car maker to also raise its full-year targets.
Second-quarter earnings for companies that are part of the STOXX 600 are expected to rise 28.1% from a year earlier, according to Refinitiv, slightly higher than estimates of 23.1% from last week.