By Barbara Kollmeyer, MarketWatch
European stocks struggled on Wednesday afternoon as investors weighed up an earnings warning from BMW AG, and a barrage of economic gloom from the region.
The Stoxx Europe 600 index /zigman2/quotes/210599654/delayed XX:SXXP -0.02% slipped 0.1% to 334.87, after breaking a three-day losing streak on Tuesday with a 2.1% gain, the biggest since April 17. The German DAX 30 index /zigman2/quotes/210597999/delayed DX:DAX +0.07% fell 0.2% and the French CAC 40 index /zigman2/quotes/210597958/delayed FR:PX1 +0.02% dropped 1%.
The FTSE 100 index /zigman2/quotes/210598409/delayed UK:UKX +0.0054% managed to sidestep losses elsewhere, as the pound fell 0.7% to $1.2350 after the IHS Markit U.K. construction purchasing managers index slumped to 8.2 in April, from 39.3 in March. Britain’s construction sector suffered by far its biggest contraction since the launch of widely followed survey of the industry 23 years ago as the coronavirus lockdown shuttered building sites and suppliers. The country’s difficult economic backdrop comes as deaths in the U.K. have now exceeded those of Italy, making its fatality toll the highest in Europe.
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Investors continue to keep an eye on the fallout from coronavirus and progress of European countries and the U.S. amid efforts to get economies back up and running. Deaths in the U.K. have now exceeded those of Italy, making its fatality toll the highest in Europe.
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The European Union predicted “a recession of historic proportions this year” due to the impact of the coronavirus with its first official estimates of the pandemic’s damage. The region is predicted to contract by 7.5% this year, before growing by about 6% in 2021. Germany reported a 15% fall in factory orders in March, the biggest drop since the series began in January 1991.
Dow futures /zigman2/quotes/210407078/delayed YM00 +0.03% were firmer, but gains slimmed after payrolls processor ADP said 20.2 million private-sector jobs were lost in April during coronavirus pandemic. Coronavirus shutdowns have pushed jobless claims to 30 million, and Friday’s April nonfarm payrolls data is expected to be one of the worst on record.
Supporting U.S. stocks were comments from President Donald Trump who said Tuesday that the U.S. needs to push to get the economy running even if it means more deaths from the outbreak.
Elsewhere, responding to a German court ruling that gave the European Central Bank three months to justify its Public Sector Purchase Programme, the ECB said it would continue to do all that was needed to revive inflation. The central bank added that the European Court of Justice ruled in December 2018 that it was “acting within its price stability mandate.”
Across stocks, shares of BMW /zigman2/quotes/209548467/delayed DE:BMW +1.31% fell 5% after the German car maker said it expects significantly lower profits in 2020, with the biggest impact coming in the second quarter from the coronavirus.
Shares of Royal Dutch Shell Group PLC tumbled 4%, as oil prices /zigman2/quotes/211629951/delayed CL.1 +0.26% slipped ahead of U.S. inventory data.
Shares of Novo Nordisk AS /zigman2/quotes/207193277/delayed DK:NOVO.B +0.82% reversed an earlier gain to drop 1%. The Danish company’s first-quarter earnings beat forecasts as patients in the U.S. and Europe stockpiled drugs amid the pandemic.
Shares of AstraZeneca PLC /zigman2/quotes/203048482/delayed UK:AZN -0.26% /zigman2/quotes/200304487/composite AZN -0.12% rose 3% after the drugmaker said its heart failure treatment, Farxiga, has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Dialog Semiconductor PLC’s shares jumped nearly 11% on Wednesday after the chip maker reported results for the first quarter of 2020 at the high end of guidance. The company expects underlying revenue for the second quarter to be in a range of $260 million and $290 million, with underlying gross margin projected to be “broadly in line” with the first quarter.
Dialog expects second-quarter sales between $260 million and $290 million, which is well above consensus forecasts for underlying revenue of $245 million and Bryan Garnier estimates of $264 million, said analyst Frédéric Yoboué.
Away from the main indexes, shares of Norwegian Air Shuttle /zigman2/quotes/204014691/delayed NO:NAS +0.04% tumbled 12% after it offered up to 571,428,571 new shares at a deep discount, aimed at raising 300 to 400 million krone ($29 million to $38 million). The airline is battling to stay afloat during the pandemic and a near collapse of air traffic. The offer prices is set at 1 krone, compared with the 4.21 krone it was trading at on Wednesday.