European shares tumbled on Wednesday as nerves about soaring prices and rising interest rates were aggravated by inflation data from the United States, while mixed earnings reports kept investors on edge about the outlook for corporate profits.
The pan-European STOXX 600 index closed down 0.5%, falling for a sixth straight session.
However, the index cut some of the losses it had registered following a report that showed U.S. producer prices increased more than expected in September, suggesting inflation remains stubbornly high.
The data comes ahead of a highly anticipated U.S. consumer prices report for September on Thursday.
“(The PPI number) doesn’t set a good precedent. It’s certainly not going to cause the Fed to veer away from its restrictive stance,” said Steve Sosnick, chief strategist at Interactive Brokers.
The STOXX 600 index is down 1.5% so far this week, with markets worried about aggressive policy moves from central banks to tackle high inflation and recent warnings from the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank exacerbating concerns about a recession.
Financials, energy and industrials were the biggest drags on the index on Wednesday, which is on course for its worst annual performance since 2008.
Meanwhile, British bond yields rose sharply after the Bank of England confirmed its programme of temporary gilt purchases will end on Friday. London’s blue-chip FTSE 100 index was down 0.9%.
Barratt Developments, Britain’s largest housebuilder, warned of a fall in annual profit on Wednesday, sparking a selloff in the sector.
Overall, European companies are expected to report a 29.4% increase in third-quarter profit, slightly below the 33.2% rise forecast at the start of October, as per Refintiv IBES data.
“There’s a school of thought in the market now that earnings estimates might be too high, that we really haven’t fully discounted the effects of a potential recession,” said Sosnick.
Philips shares fell 12.3% to their lowest in a decade as the Dutch health tech company said supply chain problems would hit sales, and wrote down 1.3 billion euros ($1.26 billion) of the value of its sleep apnea business.
Credit Suisse dropped 4.2% after Bloomberg reported the U.S. Justice Department is investigating whether the Swiss lender continued helping U.S. clients hide assets from authorities, eight years after it paid a $2.6-billion tax evasion settlement.
Among gainers, LVMH rose 1.9% after the French luxury goods giant beat market forecasts for third-quarter sales.