Europe midday: Shares lower on Atos profits warning, UK housebuilders
European shares were still lower at midday, driven lower by UK building stocks, another profits warning at French technology consulting company Atos and worries over early interest rate rises in the US.
The pan-European Stoxx 600 index was down 0.40%, with all regional bourses lower. Even news that unemployment in the eurozone continued to fall failed to cheer investors.
Investors will be eyeing US inflation numbers later in the week and testimony from US Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell at his Senate nomination hearing.
“The (inflation) data is important as investors are closely watching for signs of whether inflation is still at a point where it can be controlled with monetary policy tools or whether the Fed has lagged behind in tackling higher consumer prices,” said Avatrade analyst Naeem Aslem.
Chris Beauchamp, chief market analyst at IG said rising wages and falling unemployment in the US have sparked further weakness in equities, "with bets on a US rate hike soon increasing".
"A Fed rate hike in March is now a very real possibility, thanks it seems to the rude health in which the US economy finds itself."
In equity news, housebuilders were out of favour after the British government finally moved to help apartment owners who were potentially liable for massive bills to take down dangerous cladding from their buildings in the wake of a 2017 tower fire in London that killed 72 residents.
The discovery that apartment buildings around the country were covered in flammable cladding led to a row between the government, developers and owners over who should foot the bill for removal.
It was widely expected that the government would on Monday order companies to pay for cladding removal on buildings between 11 and 18 metres high. Owners had previously been expected to meet costs running to tens of thousands of pounds.
Shares in Barratt Developments, Bellway, Taylor Wimpey and cladding maker Kingspan were all lower on the news.
Elsewhere, shares in Swiss drugmaker Idorsia soared said after the company said it had received US Food and Drug Administration approval for its treatment for insomnia in adult patients.
French technology consulting company Atos slumped to the bottom of the Stoxx with a 17% fall after the company issued its second profit warning in seven months.