EUROPE MARKETS: European Stocks Wobble Into The Close As Missile Threat, Hurricanes Unsettle Investors

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09/08/2017 | 04:07 pm

By Carla Mozee and Sara Sjolin, MarketWatch

Rising euro puts exporters under pressure; miners fall

European stocks ended a choppy day slightly higher, but with gains capped by euro strength and worries North Korea will launch another missile over the weekend.

The Stoxx Europe 600 index closed 0.2% higher at 375.51, trimming its weekly loss to 0.2%. T

"After a frenetic week, activity has rather ground to a halt as investors look nervously towards a weekend that could see another North Korean provocation," said Chris Beauchamp, chief market analyst at IG, in a note,

"Surveying the landscape, we have a dollar in free fall, a robust euro and solid gains in gold. Stock markets, by comparison, have gone nowhere fast; once again the bears have been disappointed despite a seemingly 'perfect storm' of hurricanes, geopolitical tensions and Washington deadlock," he said.

Traders were closely following developments in North Korea, which is feared to be ready to launch another missile on Saturday as it celebrates the country's Foundation Day.

Another worry is Hurricane Irma , which could make landfall in Florida over the weekend. The hurricane--the worst ever in the Atlantic Ocean--comes just two weeks after Harvey wreaked havoc along the Texas and Louisiana Gulf Coast, causing up to $190 billion in damage, according to an AccuWeather estimate.

In addition, a powerful earthquake in Mexico ahead of the European trading session was dampening investors' enthusiasm.

Euro in focus: The dollar selloff was pushing the euro higher Friday. The shared currency traded at $1.2035, up from $1.2024 late Thursday in New York.

The euro leapt above $1.20 on Thursday after European Central Bank President Mario Draghi said policy makers will reassess the bank's bond-buying program this autumn.

Euro strength can put pressure shares of European exporters, as it can hurt revenue and earnings prospects for those companies.

Miners lose ground: Mining shares sagged after growth in Chinese exports slowed in August, to a rate of 5.5%, raising concern about softening of global demand. Mining shares can be sensitive to Chinese economic data as the world's second-largest economy is a key buyer of industrial and precious metals.

In the group, shares of copper producer Antofagasta PLC (>> Antofagasta) fell 3.7% and BHP Billiton PLC (>> BHP Billiton Plc) erased 3.8%.

Stock movers: Greene King PLC (>> Greene King) shares tumbled 16% after the pub chain operator warned of tougher trading conditions after sales fell in its "value food" business. It flagged a drop in consumer confidence in the economy as wages stagnate.

Akzo Nobel NV (>> Akzo Nobel N.V. (ADR)) (>> Akzo Nobel N.V. (ADR)) lost 0.6% after the Dutch paint maker said Chief Financial Officer Maelys Castella is stepping down because of health reasons .

National indexes: France's CAC 40 index closed marginally lower at 5,113.49, and in London, the FTSE 100 shed 0.3% to end at 7,377.60.

But Germany's DAX 30 index was fighting back from an earlier loss, rising 0.1% to 12,303.98.

Data: French industrial production rose by a less-than-expected 0.5% in July as agricultural and oil refining output contracted, said statistics agency Insee said.

Imports to Germany surged in July, a sign that domestic demand continues to drive the upswing of Europe's largest economy. Total goods imports rose 2.2% from June.

U.K. manufacturing picked up in July, official figures showed Friday, but overall industrial output fell short of analysts' expectations, suggesting that the economy rebounded only moderately as it entered the third quarter.

Stocks mentioned in the article : Antofagasta, Greene King, BHP Billiton Plc, Akzo Nobel N.V. (ADR)
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