Europe open: Stocks retreat as selling in Asia spills over
Stocks on the Continent have started the session on the back foot, with selling in Asia spilling over into the European session, amid a host of concerns.
"There hasn’t been one story that has driven the narrative this morning, but a mixture of a few negative reports has influenced the markets," said David Madden at CMC Markets UK.
Overnight, Chinese authorities confirmed a sixth fatality from what some observers were describing as a new SARS-like virus, stoking concern that travel linked to the Chinese New Year might result in the virus spreading further, potentially impacting travel and tourism across that part of the world.
Also weighing on sentiment was news that Moody's had downgraded its rating on Hong Kong's long-term debt from Aa2 to Aa3.
Against that backdrop, as of 1000 GMT, the benchmark Stoxx 600 was down 0.72% to 420.97, alongside a 0.42% dip for the German Dax to 13,483.66 and a 1.0% drop for the Cac-40 to 6,019.53.
Meanwhile, in Asia, Hong Kong's benchmark Hang Seng index slumped by an outsized 2.81% following the news from Moody's, while the Shanghai Stock Exchange's Composite Index fell 1.41% to 3,052.14.
US equity futures on the other hand were pointing to only modest losses at the opening bell on Wall Street.
From a sector standpoint, the biggest losses on the pan-European Stoxx 600 were being seen in Basic Resources (-1.66%), Banks (-0.56%), Travel&Leisure (-0.47%) and Oil&Gas (-1.07%).
At the individual company level, shares of UBS were the second-worst performer on the Stoxx 600 in the wake of the Swiss investment bank's full-year results, falling by 5%.
Somewhat ironically, analysts were considerably more upbeat on the outlook for the German economy, at least according to the prestigious ZEW institute.
The ZEW's economic sentiment index jumped by 16.0 points to reach 26.7 (consensus: 15.0).