By Barbara Kollmeyer, MarketWatch
European stocks slipped on Wednesday, as investors waited for the outcome of big central bank meetings, a U.K. election and U.S.-China trade developments.
The Stoxx Europe 600 index /zigman2/quotes/210599654/delayed XX:SXXP -0.78% slipped 0.2% to 404.45, after closing down 0.3% to 405.34 on Tuesday. The index has been down for two consecutive sessions.
The German DAX 30 index /zigman2/quotes/210597999/delayed DX:DAX -0.97% was flat at 13,080, while the French CAC 40 /zigman2/quotes/210597958/delayed FR:PX1 -0.82% fell 0.2% to 5,835.96. The FTSE 100 index /zigman2/quotes/210598409/delayed UK:UKX -0.31% was flat at 7,213.21. The blue-chip index trimmed earlier gains that stemmed from weakness in the British pound, /zigman2/quotes/210561263/realtime/sampled GBPUSD +0.0651% after a YouGov poll showed the Conservative Party’s projected lead slipping in Thursday’s election.
Analysts said that the fresh poll means a hung parliament cannot be ruled out, and that could result in a repeat of recent years in which the House of Commons was unable to decide on which Brexit plan it would go ahead with.
Investors are waiting for the outcome of the Federal Reserve’s last policy meeting of the year later on Wednesday, while the European Central Bank holds its last 2019 meeting on Thursday. Neither central bank is expected to announce a policy change.
Meanwhile, markets were warily watching for U.S.-China trade developments ahead of a looming December 15 deadline, in which the U.S. is set to slap a 15% tariff on roughly $156 billion in Chinese exports. The Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday that the U.S. may delay those tariffs.
Among stocks on the move, shares of Credit Suisse Group /zigman2/quotes/205269278/delayed CH:CSGN -1.70% fell 0.4%. The Swiss bank said it would launch share buybacks of up to $1.5 billion in 2020 and targeted around 10% for a return on tangible equity (ROTE)—a key measure of profitability. But that target was lowered from a prior range of 11% to 12%, analyst Andreas Venditti at Vontobel noted to clients.
“The reduction in Credit Suisse’s ROTE targets doesn’t come as a surprise and the guidance on capital returns is unchanged. A significant gap remains between Credit Suisse’s lowered 2020 ROTE target and consensus,” said Venditti.
Shares of Industria de Diseño Textil, otherwise known as Inditex, /zigman2/quotes/203681809/delayed ES:ITX +0.47% rose close to 1% after the Spanish retailing giant reported a rise in nine-month net profit and backed its full-year view for comparable sales growth of 4% to 6% for the fiscal year.
Elsewhere, shares of JD Sports Fashion /zigman2/quotes/207007202/delayed UK:JD -3.70% led the downside on the Stoxx Europe 600, with a drop of 9%. Those losses came after the sport-fashion retail group’s shareholder Pentland said it has reduced its stake, selling close to 24 million shares.
The share sale will allow Pentland to fund future investment activity and increase the free float to meet further interest from JD and other shareholders, said Stephen Rubin, chairman of Pentland Group, in an emailed statement. He said Pentland remains “committed to remaining a long-term majority shareholder in JD.”