EUROPE MARKETS: European Stocks Pulled Lower By G-20 Gloom, Caution Before French Debate

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03/20/2017 | 11:39 am

By Carla Mozee, MarketWatch

Stoxx Europe 600 gives back part of last week's advance

European stocks fell Monday, with the week starting on a downbeat note in the wake of the Group of 20 meeting among finance officials that stoked tensions about global trade.

The Stoxx Europe 600 index gave up 0.2% at 377.58, led by a a drop in oil and gas shares. The pan-European index on Friday rose 0.2% and logged its strongest closing since Dec. 2, 2015, according to FactSet data. The benchmark last week rose 1.4%.

Among decliners Monday was Deutsche Bank AG (DBK.XE) (DBK.XE) as the German lending heavyweight said it will issue 687.5 million new shares at EUR11.65 each, to raise EUR8 billion ($8.6 billion) as it moves to short up capital. Deutsche Bank earlier this month said it would make such a move.

G-20: Over the weekend, finance ministers and central bankers from the world's largest economies met in the German spa town of Baden-Baden. The G-20 finance officials dropped a pledge against protectionism in a policy statement, a move pushed by U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

"Even though the changes do not necessarily imply an intention to impose trade remedies and ramp up protectionism, we continue to think that the U.S. administration will pursue a more aggressive position on international trade and pivot away from multilateralism," said Citigroup economist Ebrahim Rahbari, in a research note. "Our base case is still cautiously benign, but we see a major rise in protectionism as one of the main risks to the global outlook."

The European oil group fell nearly 1% as oil prices dropped, with some analysts saying pressure came as the G-20 officials dropped the stance against protectionism.

France: The top five candidates running in France's presidential race will debate tonight. The debate follows an Ipsos poll on Friday that showed far-right candidate Marine Le Pen with 1 percentage point lead over centrist hopeful Emmanuel Macron, at 27% to 26%, in first-round voting set for April 23. Macron picked up a percentage point in the latest poll.

"A strong showing by Le Pen could add momentum to her campaign and considering her anti-European views, it may prove a cause for euro weakness," wrote Charalambos Pissouros, senior analyst at IronFX Global.

The poll, published in Le Monde, also showed Macron winning over Le Pen in second-round voting, by 61% to 39%.

Indexes: Germany's DAX 30 index fell 0.3% to 12,061.31, and France's CAC 40 shed 0.4% to 5,009.98.

The FTSE 100 gave up 0.2% at 7,407.96, hurt in part as the pound traded above $1.24 for the first time in three weeks.

The euro was buying $1.0762, up from $1.0738 late Friday in New York.

Economic data: German producer prices rose 0.2% in February, as prices at factory gates recorded their strongest annual rise in over five years.

Eurozone wages increased at a slightly faster pace in the final three months of last year, said Eurostat.

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