April 6, 2018 / 7:36 AM / 20 days ago

European shares close in the red as trade war fears persist

MILAN/LONDON (Reuters) - European shares fell on Friday alongside global stock markets as fears of a worsening trade conflict between the United States and China continued to worry investors.

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

The pan-European STOXX 600 declined 0.35 percent, erasing part of Thursday’s 2.4 percent gain though posting a weekly rise of 1 percent.

Trump on Thursday directed U.S. trade officials to identify another $100 billion of tariffs on Chinese imports, sharpening a confrontation between the world’s two largest economies.

Comments on Friday by Trump’s top economic adviser Larry Kudlow, who said negotiations over trade differences would start soon, failed to reassure Wall Street, which suffered heavy losses in early deals.

“Such an environment augurs badly for a resumption of the rally,” commented Chris Beauchamp, chief market analyst at IG.

The trade-exposed auto sector .SXAP was the leading sectoral loser, down 1.7 percent.

    Caution, however, boosted defensive stocks such as utilities or telecoms, which were among a handful of sectors ending the day in positive territory.

    Telecom Italia (TLIT.MI) posted the best performance with a 6.9 percent rise after the Italian state lender CDP said it would buy a stake of up to 5 percent in the telecoms company.

    Shares in telecoms group Altice (ATCA.AS) also rose 3.4 percent and other corporates in the sector added points such as BT (BT.L), up 1 percent.

    French utility Suez (SEVI.PA) rose 1.6 percent, boosted by a bullish broker note.

    Elsewhere among top movers, Dufry (DUFN.S) rose 3 percent after the Swiss retailer proposed a higher-than-expected dividend and announced a share buyback.

    UK’s Marks & Spencer (MKS.L) fell 1.8 percent and Next (NXT.L) lost 1 percent after Citi downgraded both stocks, among other retailers.

    Reporting by Danilo Masoni; Editing by Mark Heinrich

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