By Barbara Kollmeyer
September has been rough on equity investors all over, with Europe no exception, as the region’s main index is facing its worst monthly performance in a year in a turbulent month for markets.
The Stoxx Europe 600 index /zigman2/quotes/210599654/delayed XX:SXXP -0.73% was off 0.1% at 454.55 Thursday, with the index set for a 3.2% drop for the month, which if it holds, would be the worst performance since October 2020. On a quarterly basis, the index is poised for a 0.5% gain, which would be the weakest performance since the quarter ended March 2020.
Elsewhere, the German DAX /zigman2/quotes/210597999/delayed DX:DAX -0.86% fell 0.5%, the French CAC 40 /zigman2/quotes/210597958/delayed FR:PX1 -1.34% fell 0.6% and the FTSE 100 index /zigman2/quotes/210598409/delayed UK:UKX -0.70% was down 0.3%. The euro /zigman2/quotes/210561242/realtime/sampled EURUSD -0.2223% , meanwhile, was modestly lower against the dollar at $1.1588, but is trading at the lowest level in more than a year as expectations for tighter policy from the Federal Reserve has left the dollar 1% higher this week.
Another day of soaring natural gas and electricity prices in Europe was a focus for investors.
October Title Transfer Facility (TTF) natural gas futures in the Netherlands — the European benchmark — climbed nearly 7% to 93.20 euros per megawatt hour (MWh) , while U.K. natural gas futures rose 7% to 242.28 pence a therm. German and French power futures prices also reportedly reached record highs. The French government will be meeting Thursday to figure out how to alleviate elevated power prices for consumers.
Also on Thursday, the U.K., which has been suffering petrol or gasoline shortages, saw three more smaller energy providers go out of business, leaving over 200,000 customers to find a new provider as wholesale natural gas prices have soared in the country.
Europe finds itself struggling with power and natural gas shortages as Friday marks the official start of winter. Utilities were under pressure on Thursday, with shares of Iberdrola /zigman2/quotes/202060935/delayed ES:IBE -0.51% tumbling 2.7%, National Grid /zigman2/quotes/208805676/delayed UK:NG +0.39% down 1.5% and Vestas Wind Systems /zigman2/quotes/205019303/delayed DK:VWS -1.62% dropping over 3%.
Mining-related stocks such as BHP Group /zigman2/quotes/206213719/delayed UK:BHP -1.60% /zigman2/quotes/208108397/composite BHP -0.70% and Rio Tinto /zigman2/quotes/208934945/delayed UK:RIO -1.91% /zigman2/quotes/202627887/composite RIO -0.59% rose 0.7% and 1.6%. Data from China showed economic activity for the manufacturing sector contracted in September, the first pullback since early 2020.