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March 29, 2018, 1:39 p.m. EDT

European stocks rise as car makers rev higher, but still book quarterly decline

Sodexo shares sink on warning

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By Carla Mozee, MarketWatch


AFP/Getty Images
Allies Renault and Nissan are considering a merger, according to a report.

German stocks led European equities higher Thursday, but the broader market couldn’t avoid losses for March and the first quarter of 2018.

How markets moved

The Stoxx Europe 600 index /zigman2/quotes/210599654/delayed XX:SXXP +1.09% rose 0.4% to end at 370.87, fronted by gains for the consumer goods and basic materials groups. But the utility sector fared the worst. On Wednesday, the index rose 0.5%.

The strongest national index on Thursday was Germany’s DAX 30 /zigman2/quotes/210597999/delayed DX:DAX +0.46% as it leapt 1.3% to 12,096.73, its first close above 12,000 in a week. The index still ended the first quarter with a 6.4% drop.

France’s CAC 40 index /zigman2/quotes/210597958/delayed FR:PX1 +0.59% finished up 0.7% at 5,167.30. The U.K.’s FTSE 100 index /zigman2/quotes/210598409/delayed UK:UKX +1.10% tacked on 0.2% to end at 7,056.61. Britain on Thursday marked one year to go before the country is slated to leave the European Union, although a two-year Brexit transition deal was reached last week.

See: Brace for more ‘poor’ action by U.K. stocks, says world’s largest asset manager

The euro /zigman2/quotes/210561242/realtime/sampled EURUSD -0.0988% traded at $1.2294, down from $1.2310 late Wednesday in New York. But the shared currency has risen roughly 2.4% against the greenback this quarter.

In the fixed-income market, the yield on Germany’s 10-year bund /zigman2/quotes/211347112/realtime BX:TMBMKDE-10Y -7.97%  shed 1 basis point to 0.489%.

For March, the Stoxx 600 fell 2.3%, a second consecutive monthly decline. For the first quarter, it dropped by 4.7%, the worst performance since the first quarter of 2016, according to FactSet data.

What drove markets

Shares of car makers ran higher as trading got under way in the last session of March, after a Bloomberg report that France’s Renault SA /zigman2/quotes/200919924/delayed FR:RNO +0.40%  is in talks to merge with Japan’s Nissan Motor Co. /zigman2/quotes/208298710/delayed JP:7201 +1.86% . The two companies currently have an alliance. Renault shares closed up 5.8%.

German auto shares were up alongside Renault, and the broader German market was higher following data that showed the unemployment rate in Europe’s largest economy reached a record low of 5.3% in March.

However, European blue-chip stocks still finished in the red for the month and the quarter, hurt in part by fears of a global trade war and a possibly stepped-up pace of interest-rate rises by the U.S. Federal Reserve.

U.S. President Donald Trump’s tone on trade has helped drive some investor concerns, after his administration slapped tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, and considered taking aim at Chinese imports via similar duties.

Opinion: Who gets hurt in a trade war? Mostly not China

/zigman2/quotes/210599654/delayed
XX : STOXX
412.02
+4.44 +1.09%
Volume: 0.00
Dec. 13, 2019 5:50p
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/zigman2/quotes/210597999/delayed
DAX
DX : Xetra Indices
13,282.72
+61.08 +0.46%
Volume: 106,137
Dec. 13, 2019 6:30p
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/zigman2/quotes/210597958/delayed
FR : France: Euronext Paris
5,919.02
+34.76 +0.59%
Volume: 113,199
Dec. 13, 2019 6:05p
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/zigman2/quotes/210598409/delayed
UK : FTSE UK
7,353.44
+79.97 +1.10%
Volume: 0.00
Dec. 13, 2019 4:59p
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/zigman2/quotes/210561242/realtime/sampled
US : Tullett Prebon
1.1121
-0.0011 -0.0988%
Volume: 0.0000
Dec. 13, 2019 4:59p
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/zigman2/quotes/211347112/realtime
add Add to watchlist BX:TMBMKDE-10Y
BX : Tullett Prebon
-0.29
-0.02 -7.97%
Volume: 0.00
Dec. 13, 2019 6:00p
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/zigman2/quotes/200919924/delayed
FR : France: Euronext Paris
42.46
+0.17 +0.40%
Volume: 1.84M
Dec. 13, 2019 5:37p
P/E Ratio
5.18
Dividend Yield
8.36%
Market Cap
€12.23 billion
Rev. per Employee
N/A
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/zigman2/quotes/208298710/delayed
JP : Japan: Tokyo
¥ 680.50
+12.40 +1.86%
Volume: 16.68M
Dec. 13, 2019 3:00p
P/E Ratio
19.27
Dividend Yield
2.94%
Market Cap
¥2614.35 billion
Rev. per Employee
¥85.36M
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