(Reuters) - Most European shares ended slightly lower on Thursday amid mixed signals on a U.S.-China “phase-one” trade deal, while a slide in Glencore shares on a bribery investigation tied in with a strong pound to push London’s benchmark index to near two-month lows.
German shares .GDAXI also underperformed peers throughout the day after data showed industrial orders fell unexpectedly in October, suggesting a manufacturing downturn will continue to hold back growth in Europe's largest economy in the final quarter.
Stocks around the globe have been on a roller coaster ride this week as investors struggled to demystify messages from U.S. President Donald Trump on the trade war.
Trump’s comments swung wildly with him saying talks with China were going “very well” at one meeting, while warning that the deal may come only after elections in November 2020 at another.
“Traders are have become a bit nervous again,” said David Madden, an analyst with CMC Markets.
“You cannot be optimistic and bullish when there isn’t clear positive news about this (U.S.-China trade).”
The increasing sensitivity to trade headlines comes as Dec. 15 closes in when a further set of U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods is set to take effect unless a deal is struck.
The pan-European STOXX 600 closed down 0.1% after a stellar rally on Wednesday, and was mainly dragged by a slump in commodity-linked stocks .SXPP.
Glencore (GLEN.L) dropped 9% to its lowest since October 2016 after Britain’s Serious Fraud Office launched an investigation concerning “suspicions of bribery,” - the latest addition to the commodity trading giant’s legal woes.
That, along with a pound GBP= that zoomed on growing confidence that next week's election will give the Conservative Party the parliamentary majority needed to deliver Brexit, pushed Britain's FTSE .FTSE 0.7% lower.
Elsewhere, Moncler (MONC.MI) jumped 6.5% after Bloomberg reported that Gucci-owner Kering (PRTP.PA) held “exploratory” talks about a potential deal with the Italian luxury puffer coat maker. The news also boosted its local peers Salvatore Ferragamo (SFER.MI) and Tod’s (TOD.MI).
Moncler’s chief executive, however, played down the speculation saying there was no deal in the works.
The rally in luxury stocks come as a relief after pulling back on Tuesday when Washington threatened punitive duties of up to 100% on champagne, handbags and other imports from France.
Novartis (NOVN.S) was among the biggest boosts to the STOXX 600. The drugmaker’s chief executive said the firm is planning more than 80 major submissions to regulators for drug approvals from 2020-2022.
Reporting by Susan Mathew in Bengaluru and Thyagaraju Adinarayan in London; Editing by Hugh Lawson, Christina Fincher, William Maclean