European stocks closed sharply lower on Wednesday, with losses accelerating throughout the session, with commodity-related stocks among the biggest decliners of the day.
Major regional indexes opened slightly higher but soon turned negative. Uncertainty surrounding the unfolding currency crisis in Turkey added to the negative tone on the day.
What are markets doing?
The Stoxx Europe 600 (STOXX:XX:SXXP) fell 1.4% to 379.70, its third decline of the past four sessions, as well as its biggest one-day decline since June 25. Thus far this week, prices have slid 1.6%; the index could post its third straight weekly drop.
The pan-European gauge has lost 2.4% thus far in 2018.
Germany’s DAX 30 (XEX:DX:DAX) fell 1.6% to 12,163.01 while France’s CAC 40 (PAR:FR:PX1) lost 2.1% to 5,289.41. France’s market posted its fourth straight daily decline, as well as its steepest one-day percentage drop since March 2. The U.K.’s FTSE 100 (FTSE:UK:UKX) fell 1.5% to 7,497.87.
The euro (XTUP:EURUSD) slipped against the dollar, changing hands at $1.1330, compared with $1.1344 late Tuesday in New York.
What is driving the market?
Investors continued to monitor the currency crisis in Turkey, which many fear could spread and have a negative impact on the European banks with exposure to the region. The region showed some signs of stabilization, and it was reported that Qatar would invest $15 billion in the country.
The Turkish lira (XTUP:TRYUSD) jumped 5.7% against the buck, bringing its week-to-date gain to 4.7%. However, it remains sharply lower of late, having dropped about 20% thus far this month, recently hitting an all-time low.
Volatility should remain elevated, however, after Turkey raised tariffs on a number of American products, in the latest escalation in tensions between the two countries. U.S. President Donald Trump raised tariffs on Turkish aluminum and steel last week; the latest tariffs from Turkey are in response to those “conscious attacks,” according to a translation of a tweet posted by Fuat Oktay, the country’s vice president.
Also weighing on markets were pronounced drops in commodity prices. Brent crude oil fell 2.6% and was trading near its lowest level since April, while industrial metals were roundly lower. Crude prices were pressured after inventory data showed an unexpected rise, a negative sign for demand.
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Energy and commodity-related stocks were among the weakest of the day, providing an outsize drag on the major indexes.
Among notable decliners, BHP Billiton PLC fell 5.2% while BP PLC was off 1.9%. Royal Dutch Shell PLC (LON:UK:RDSA) lost 1.9%. Rio Tinto PLC (LON:UK:RIO) ended down 3.3%.
Copper miner Antofagasta PLC (LON:UK:ANTO) fell 5.7%, extending a recent decline that came after it reported results and warned about the impact of trade tensions between the U.S. and the country’s major trading partners. The stock is down more than 16% thus far this month.
On the upside, shares of Vestas Wind Systems jumped 3.1% after the company reported its second-quarter results, though it closed well off its highs of the session. Separately, Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy SA (MCE:ES:SGRE) rose 0.6%.
The U.K.’s Admiral Group PLC (LON:UK:ADM) gained 3.2% after reporting its second-quarter results.
GlaxoSmithKline PLC (LON:UK:GSK) rose 2% after one of the company’s subsidiary reported positive results in its first phase 3 study for an injectable two-drug regimen for the treatment of HIV.