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Europe close: Stocks end on mixed note

By Alexander Bueso

Date: Saturday 18 May 2024

Europe close: Stocks end on mixed note

(Sharecast News) - European shares ended on a mixed note on Friday as investors digested eurozone inflation data, although luxury goods maker Richemont surged despite a fall in fourth-quarter sales.
The pan-regional Stoxx 600 index was down 0.13% to 522.94 with major bourses lower, albeit well off the day's lows - bar Spain's IBEX 35, which was up 0.25%.

In economic news, eurozone annual inflation came in at 2.4% in April, unchanged from March and in line with expectations - boosting expectations of a rate cut in the summer.

Core inflation, which strips out volatile items such as food and energy - came in at 2.7% down from 2.9% in March and 5.6% a year ago.

Elsewhere the Chinese central bank moved again to help the struggling property sector on Friday by relaxing lending rules, as data showed house prices in major cities fell last month.

First-time buyers will now have to put down a minimum 15% deposit from a previous 20%, the People's Bank of China (PboC) said. Minimum interest rates on mortgages were also scrapped.

In a separate data dump, industrial production in the world's second-largest economy rose more than expected in April to 6.7% year on year, according to official data from the National Bureau of Statistics. The rise beat forecasts of 5.5% and March's 4.5% increase.

However, it was a different picture on the retail sales front, where 2.3% growth from April last year was well below the forecast 3.7%.

Fixed asset investment rose 4.2% for the first four months of the year, lower than the 4.6% expected increase.

In equity news, Richemont gained 5% after record annual sales but also confirmed that the luxury sector was stagnating as the Cartier jewellery owner posted a 1% drop in fourth quarter sales.

Insurer Scor fell after it missed forecasts during the first quarter of 2024 with its combined ratio deteriorating by 1.9 percentage points year on year to 87.1 percent.

Auto Trader Group fell 3.3% after a Morgan Stanley rating downgrade to 'underweight' from 'equal weight'.


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