Europe close: Stocks drift lower even as ECB sticks to script
European shares finished off their worst levels of the session despite news of a much higher-than-expected reading on consumer prices from across the Pond.
Nevertheless, the European Central Bank stuck to script, announcing that it would continue buying assets at a brisk pace, while investors on Wall Street were pushing stocks to fresh record highs.
"It will be interesting to see who had ‘stocks up, gold up, dollar down after strong inflation report’ on their bingo cards today, but those were the immediate moves in global markets, an interesting reflection on how investors perceive the outlook for coming months for both prices and Fed policy," was IG chief market analyst, Chris Beauchamp's take on matters.
The pan-European Stoxx 600 added 0.03% to 454.16, while Germany's DAX drifted down 0.06% to 15,571.22 and France's CAC 40 dipped 0.26% at 6,546.49.
In economic news, the ECB said that its emergency asset purchases would continue at a "significantly higher" pace over the third quarter than in the first months of 2021, just as expected.
Stateside, the Department of Labor reported an acceleration in the annual rate of consumer price gains in May to 5.0% (consensus: 4.6%) - for the first time since 2008.
In equity news, shares in UK vehicle marketplace Auto Trader topped the Stoxx 600 throughout most of the session as the company said it was set to cash in on a “dramatic” shift to online car buying during the pandemic – despite a 37% fall in pre-tax profit to £157.4m for the 12 months to March 31.
But by the end of trading it was BT shares that were at the top of the leaderboard, after US firm Altice Group said it had taken a 12.1% stake in the UK’s largest broadband and mobile operator.
Shares in Ryanair and rival easyJet were both lower on worries of a delay in the UK government's plan to lift more Covid restrictions on June 21.
German carmaker Volkswagen fell on reports it expected a shortage in semiconductor supply to ease in the third quarter but sees the bottlenecks continuing in the long-term.