June 26, 2018 / 7:42 AM / 5 months ago

Trade war worries persist as European shares close flat

LONDON (Reuters) - It was a choppy session for European shares on Tuesday, which initially saw a modest bounce after trade tensions triggered losses the previous day, but ran out of steam to close flat.

The German share price index, DAX board, is seen at the stock exchange in Frankfurt, Germany, March 20, 2018. REUTERS/Staff/Remote

The pan-European STOXX 600 was unchanged in percentage terms and remained at its lowest level since mid-April following Monday’s 2 percent slide.

Germany's exporter-heavy DAX .GDAXI, which has been the most sensitive to trade tensions, gave up gains to end 0.3 percent lower.

Concerns over trade have gripped global markets over the past weeks, wiping $1.5 trillion off the MSCI All-Country World since June 12.

Trade disputes and slower economic growth have hit European stocks hard, with the STOXX 600 down 3 percent year-to-date and euro zone stocks .STOXXE down 2.8 percent.

Chris Hiorns, senior fund manager at EdenTree, said he thought European stocks would perform more robustly “if we could really see growth come through and become self-enforcing, a virtuous circle of growth driving higher demand.”

But, he added: “If we are looking for triggers then what we’d want is for Trump to stop his trade war with China.”

While autos .SXAP, a sector in the firing line of higher tariffs, retreated 0.1 percent, the sectors worst hit by the trade-related sell-off were Tuesday’s strongest gainers, with basic resources .SXPP and oil stocks .SXEP leading the way, while tech stocks .SX8P also recovered.

On the stock level, merger and acquisition news drove the biggest movers.

British satellite firm Inmarsat (ISA.L) fell 12.5 percent, the worst on the STOXX 600, after France’s Eutelsat (ETL.PA) said it did not intend to make an offer for the firm, having said on Monday it was considering a possible bid.

Eutelsat shares rose 2.8 percent.

Bid speculation meanwhile boosted French payments processor Ingenico (INGC.PA) nearly 5 percent after Bloomberg reported on Monday that the firm was drawing preliminary interest from several private equity firms.

In results-driven moves, the food and biopharma testing firm Eurofins (EUFI.PA) jumped 8.2 percent after saying it was raising its revenue target for the year, having received antitrust clearance for its acquisition of U.S. food company Covance.

While investors were concerned about the potential deepening of a trade spat which has shifted from a bilateral U.S.-China dispute to one involving more regions, including Europe, some analysts said the economic impact would ultimately be limited.

“Trade negotiations have also been distracting attention from decent economic fundamentals, especially in the U.S., and strong corporate earnings growth,” said Mark Haefele, global chief investment officer for UBS Wealth Management.

Graphic: Trade war wipes 1.5 trillion June 26-reut.rs/2KlD8Hb

Reporting by Helen Reid and Kit Rees; Editing by Alexandra Hudson

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