European shares inched down in early trade on Thursday, hit by a batch of bad news for healthcare companies and a series of new twists in the US-China trade war ahead of top-level negotiations starting later in the day.
Danish biosciences company Chr. Hansen (CHRH.CO) hit a one-and-a-half-year low, sliding to the bottom of the pan-European STOXX 600 index after saying its organic sales growth next year would fall short of long-term guidance.
The benchmark index erased initial gains to drop 0.2% by 0830 GMT. Healthcare stocks .SXDP slipped nearly 1% and were the biggest decliners among the major European sub-sectors.
European equity markets have fallen more than 3% in October as a dismal run of economic data and the threat of a transatlantic trade war added to US-China trade tensions and Britain’s chaotic efforts to leave the EU.
Germany’s trade-sensitive DAX .GDAXI index lagged its peers on Thursday after data showed a steeper-than-expected fall in August exports, adding to signs that a manufacturing slump was pushing Europe’s biggest economy into recession.
Minister-level trade talks between the United States and China are set to resume for the first time since July as they attempt to end a 15-month trade war that has hurt global growth and dented business confidence.
“I think the worst thing any investor can do right now is to second guess these political events,” said Russ Mould, investment director at brokerage AJ Bell, adding that China was “playing a patient game.”
In the latest turn of events, China urged the United States on Thursday to stop unreasonable pressure on Chinese companies, including Huawei Technologies.
The South China Morning Post has reported that the two-day negotiations could be cut short by a day while Bloomberg said late on Wednesday that the United States was weighing a currency pact with China as part of a partial deal.
Without significant progress, the next round of US tariff hikes on $250 billion worth of Chinese goods will take effect on Oct. 15.
Dutch health technology company Philips (PHG.AS) lost 8.1% as the firm said it would miss its 2019 target for profit margin improvement because of trade tariffs and poor results at its Connected Care arm.
Helping France’s CAC 40 .FCHI rise was a near 4.6% jump in shares of LVMH (LVMH.PA), after the Louis Vuitton owner beat sales forecasts for the third quarter.
Shares of rivals Gucci-owner Kering (PRTP.PA), Burberry (BRBY.L), Christian Dior (DIOR.PA) and Moncler (MONC.MI) climbed between 1.4% and 4.5%.