By Steve Goldstein, MarketWatch
European stocks dropped on Tuesday as traders look for a new catalyst after the big rally from the depths of March.
Down two of the last three sessions, the Stoxx Europe 600 /zigman2/quotes/210599654/delayed XX:SXXP +0.26% fell 1.5%.
The finance sector struggled, with Natixis /zigman2/quotes/207978364/delayed FR:KN -0.05% , Legal & General /zigman2/quotes/201125471/delayed UK:LGEN -0.96% and Société Générale /zigman2/quotes/206663756/delayed FR:GLE -1.07% retreating.
The German DAX /zigman2/quotes/210597999/delayed DX:DAX +0.21% , French CAC 40 /zigman2/quotes/210597958/delayed FR:PX1 +0.14% and U.K. FTSE 100 /zigman2/quotes/210598409/delayed UK:UKX +0.39% all dropped sharply.
The U.S. S&P 500 /zigman2/quotes/210599714/realtime SPX +0.51% on Monday turned positive for the year. Investors appear to be betting that even if the coronavirus spread accelerates, governments won’t be as strict as they were initially. The World Health Organization on Monday said it is very rare for asymptomatic people to spread the virus.
The U.S. Federal Reserve, after European markets had closed, loosened the terms of its still inactive Main Street Lending Program. The Fed will decide its latest move on interest rates on Wednesday.
“No change to policy is expected, but markets will assess for how long current policy settings will be in place and the likelihood of further stimulus despite the unexpected payrolls rebound in May,” said Hann-Ju Ho, senior economist for commercial banking at Lloyds Bank.
German exports fell a record 24% in April, while the Bank of France’s survey of the manufacturing and construction sectors improved sharply in May.
Of stocks in focus in Europe, cigarette maker British American Tobacco /zigman2/quotes/209116881/delayed UK:BATS -0.60% /zigman2/quotes/210207837/composite BTI -0.99% fell 4% after reducing its earnings and sales guidance for the year, blaming a 3% revenue drag due to lower international travel.
U.K. engineering group Aveva /zigman2/quotes/202038414/delayed UK:AVV +1.32% rose 4%, after reporting a 23% rise in adjusted operating profit on 9% revenue growth and maintaining its dividend payment.
Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average /zigman2/quotes/210407078/delayed YM00 +0.09% fell 319 points.