(Reuters) - European shares joined a China-driven global sell-off on Monday, dragged down heavily by commodity-linked stocks as anxiety over trade frictions with the United States sent the country’s yuan below 7 per dollar for the first time in a decade.
The pan-European STOXX 600 index fell 1.5%, adding to a 2.5% fall on Friday, its worst day so far in 2019, as traders dumped stock investments in favour of perceived safe-havens like government bonds.
The latest batch of selling dates back to U.S. President Donald Trump’s threat late last week to slap 10% tariffs on another $300 billion in imports from China, abruptly ending a month-long truce in the trade war.
Commodities-linked stocks .SXPP bore the brunt of the hit, falling 3% as China’s offshore yuan CFXS= hit a record low, making it expensive for the world’s biggest copper consumer to buy dollar-denominated metals.
With the escalating trade war giving Beijing fewer reasons to maintain yuan stability, analysts said they expect the currency to continue to weaken.
“The fact that Beijing has allowed the yuan to fall so much suggests that China is using this as a tool against the U.S. because if the yuan is weak then it will likely boost exporters in China,” said CMC Markets analyst David Madden.
“That is also something that might agitate Trump. So the fact that they are not intervening with the slide in their currency is somewhat of an intervention in itself.”
The resurfacing on trade tensions however, has euro zone money markets now pricing in 100% chance of a 10 bps rate cut by the European Central Bank in September.
Shares in HSBC (HSBA.L) matched the roughly 1% fall in the pan-European index after it announced the surprise departure of Chief Executive Officer John Flint along with a 16% rise in first half profits.
The Asia-focussed bank, grappling with the escalation of the trade war with China and a swing towards a new round of monetary easing, also said it would buy back $1 billion in shares.
Shares in German group Metro (B4B.DE) fell 6% after Czech businessman Daniel Kretinsky’s investment vehicle denied reports it was considering raising its takeover offer price for the German retailer and wholesaler.
Takeaway.com (TKWY.AS) shares dipped 0.7% after it agreed to buy British rival Just Eat (JE.L) to create the world’s largest online food delivery firm outside China. Shares of the British firm fell 1.6%.
Evonik (EVKn.DE) shares slipped 2.4% after the U.S. Federal Trade Commission said on Friday it was suing to stop the German chemical maker’s proposed purchase of rival hydrogen peroxide maker PeroxyChem Holding Company.
Reporting by Agamoni Ghosh and Shreyashi Sanyal in Bengaluru; editing by Patrick Graham