European Stocks Slip

European Stocks Slip

On Friday morning, European markets were slightly lower as concerns about the spread of the omicron Covid-19 variant and the inflation outlook persisted. By late morning, the pan-European Stoxx 600 had fallen 0.4 percent, with autos and technology stocks losing 1.7 percent each, while essential resources gained 0.7 percent.

On Thursday, investors reacted positively to central bank policy decisions, sending European markets higher. On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve announced that it will be aggressive in tapering bond purchases and anticipates several rate hikes in 2022.

The Bank of England followed suit. It raised interest rates for the first time since the pandemic began, citing a strong labor market and the need to return inflation to its target of 2%. The reading for November was 5.1 percent annually, a 10-year high. 

Inflation is running at more than double the target in the United States. Hence, the eurozone, and the United Kingdom, questions remain whether it can bring under control.

Meanwhile, the omicron variant is spreading at an alarming rate. Countries across Europe are putting containment measures to avoid a flood of cases. Asia-Pacific markets were mostly lower overnight, with stocks in Japan and India leading the declines.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite fell 2.47 percent during regular trading for its worst day since September. Hence, stock futures in the United States pointed to a sluggish start on Wall Street on Friday.

Biggest Moves

General Motors: GM fell about 4% in extended trading. The CEO of its San Francisco-based self-driving car company, Cruise, left it. Kyle Vogt, the founder of Cruise, will serve as interim CEO.

U.S. Steel: Shares of U.S. Steel fell about 4% after the company issued fourth-quarter 2021 adjusted EBITDA guidance. 

Affirm: an installment loan company fell more than 1% after hours and continued to fall after closing down 10%. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced that it had launched an investigation into buy-now, pay-later credit.

On the data front, a monthly survey conducted by Germany’s Ifo Institute revealed a drop in sentiment in Europe’s largest economy in December, with the business climate index falling to 94.7 from 96.6 in November, falling short of the consensus forecast of 95.3.

Proximus: The Belgian communications company jumped 4.1 percent to the top of the index after announcing that its subsidiary Telesign intends to go public.