Thursday, 24 Sep 2020

Tech, healthcare drag European stocks lower; banks jump

(Reuters) – European stocks slipped on Friday as investors dumped this year’s outperformers including technology and healthcare stocks and bid up banking shares after the U.S. Federal Reserve unveiled its new policy framework.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index slipped 0.1%. Technology stocks .SX8P, which have surged about 11% this year, were down 0.7%, and the healthcare index .SXDP fell as much.

Interest rate-sensitive banks .SX7P, which have lagged the broader markets, jumped nearly 3% as yield on U.S. and European government bonds, a benchmark for borrowing costs, rose. [GVD/EUR]

Shares in BNP Paribas (BNPP.PA), HSBC (HSBA.L) and Banco Santander (SAN.MC) rose between 1.3% and 3%, providing the biggest boost to the STOXX 600.

Fed Chairman Jerome Powell announced a new policy framework on Thursday, which focuses more on boosting U.S. economic growth and less on worries that inflation could be running too high.

“If the Fed’s policies succeed in reflating the economy, interest rates are unlikely to fall much further and value stocks such as financials should begin to outperform growth stocks, like tech, which face a growing litany of risks,” analysts at BCA Research wrote in a note.

Further adding to the gloom, data showed German consumer morale worsened heading into September, casting some doubt on whether household spending in Europe’s largest economy is powerful enough to spur a recovery.

With coronavirus cases picking up again in Europe, investors fear it could impede an economic rebound from a crash in the second-quarter, although optimism around the development of a COVID-19 treatment has helped ease those worries.

“We think an interrupted V-shaped recovery seems to be the way we’re heading,” said Francis Ellison, client portfolio manager of European equities at Columbia Threadneedle Investments. “That means that we’re seeing a sharp recovery but nowhere back to 2019 levels and that will take a year or two to reach.”

Norwegian Air NORR.OL fell 5.7% after the budget carrier said it still needs more cash in order to weather the COVID-19 pandemic as it reported a deep loss for the first half of 2020.

Italian state-owned bank Monte Dei Paschi di Siena (BMPS.MI) gained 4.3% as it received a conditional green light from the European Central Bank for its bad loan clean-up plan.

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