Banks Lead Europe Stocks Lower in Worst Start to Year Since 2009

European stocks extended their third quarterly drop in four to wrap up what has been the worst start to a year since the financial crisis.

Lenders helped drag the Stoxx Europe 600 Index down 1.1 percent at the close of trading, trimming its monthly gain to 1.1 percent. After rebounding 14 percent in five weeks through March 14, the gauge’s advance has stalled, putting its quarterly drop at 7.7 percent. That’s the worst first-quarter performance since 2009, with all but one of 19 industry groups falling.

After beating U.S. equities last year by the most in a decade, European stocks are now trailing them by the most since 2003. While the Stoxx 600 has bounced back from every quarterly drop but one since 2011, the companies in the index are now losing two of their remaining lifelines: analysts have slashed profit estimates this quarter, forecasting declines for the year, while economic data continue to miss projections. Fund managers have withdrawn money for seven straight weeks, the longest streak since 2014, according to a Bank of America Corp. note last week.

Among stocks moving on corporate news, Bouygues SA lost 3.6 percent and Orange SA dropped 1.3 percent after the two companies extended a deadline to reach an agreement on their wireless-phone merger plan. French peers Iliad SA and Numericable-SFR SAS fell more than 1.8 percent, while Kabel Deutschland Holding AG lost 3.4 percent.

Source: Bloomberg

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Shanghai Composite Posts Biggest Monthly Gain in Almost a Year

China’s stocks capped their steepest monthly advance in almost a year amid signs the economy is stabilizing.

The Shanghai Composite Index added 0.1 percent at the close, extending the March gain to 12 percent. Consumer and technology companies were the best performers during the month. Chongqing Changan Automobile Co. jumped to a two-month high on Thursday on a plan to sell shares in a private placement. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng China Enterprises Index slipped after briefly entering a bull market.

China’s economy is showing signs of stabilizing, Premier Li Keqiang said last week at the Boao Forum. A report last weekend showed industrial profits halted declines to surge 4.8 percent in the first two months of the year, while manufacturing data on Friday will probably show improvement. The Purchasing Managers’ Index rebounded to 49.4 percent in February from 49 a month earlier, according to the median estimates of a survey by Bloomberg. The yuan swung to a gain for the year against the dollar on Wednesday.

The Shanghai Composite rose for a second day to 3,003.92. The so-called H-share index dropped 0.2 percent at 3:08 p.m. It climbed as much as 0.8 percent, extending gains since a Feb. 12 low to 20 percent — a level which some analysts see as a bull market. The CSI 300 Index advanced 0.1 percent, while the Hang Seng Index slipped 0.4 percent.

The Shanghai gauge closed out the first quarter as the world’s worst-performing global measure, with the March rebound failing to compensate for a terrible start to the year. This month’s recovery may extend into April, according to recent indicators such as growth in margin lending, a jump in the number of new investors and easing volatility.

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Source: Bloomberg

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Hong Kong shares dip on profit taking, Hang Seng sheds over 5 pct in Q1

Hong Kong’s benchmark share index retreated from near three-month highs on Thursday as some investors took profits from a jump in the previous session as fears of a near-term U.S. interest rate hike receded.

The Hang Seng index ended down 0.1 percent at 20,776.70 points, while the China Enterprises Index gained 0.3 percent to 9,003.25.

For the month, the Hang Seng gained 8.7 percent, but was still down 5.2 percent in the first quarter after a dismal start to the year.

Energy shares were firm but the financial sector fell, weighed down by China’s state-owned lenders, which have reported flat earnings growth and higher bad loans as economic growth slows.

Shares of Dalian Wanda Commercial Properties Co Ltd surged 18.4 percent, after disclosing that its parent Dalian Wanda Group was looking at taking the company private.

Source : Reuters

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