- Zurich Insurance drags peer group lower after forecast
- Shell warns fourth-quarter profit to fall at least 42 percent
European stocks slid to a 15-month low as falling oil prices and results from companies including Zurich Insurance Group AG and Royal Dutch Shell Plc exacerbated investor concern about global growth.
Zurich Insurance slid 11 percent after predicting a second straight quarterly loss for its biggest unit. Shell lost 7.3 percent after saying quarterly profit plunged as the slide in oil prices deepened. Seadrill Ltd. plummeted 29 percent as Bank of America Corp. cut its rating to the equivalent of sell. BHP Billiton Ltd. helped drag a gauge of commodity producers to the worst performance on the Stoxx Europe 600 Index, falling 7.4 percent after trimming its full-year iron-ore output forecast. Glencore Plc fell 9.9 percent.
The Stoxx 600 erased Tuesday’s rebound, tumbling 3.2 percent to 322.29 at the close of trading. Concern that a slowdown in China will spread and plunging oil prices have weighed on investor sentiment, dragging the European gauge down 12 percent this year and into a bear market last week. Oil extended its drop from the lowest close in more than 12 years today. The VStoxx Index measuring volatility expectations for euro-area shares jumped 14 percent.
“The oil sector is weighing prominently as the market is pricing in lower oil, which means lower demand and slower growth,” said Michael Woischneck, an equities fund manager who oversees the equivalent of $156 million at Lampe Asset Management in Dusseldorf, Germany. “I’m sitting on my cash, not buying right now, because we think it can get worse. We see a worst case of another 10 percent down.”
The Stoxx 600 broke below its 200-week moving average at 324.15, hitting its lowest level since December 2014. Still, sentiment is so negative that technical indicators are not enough to trigger a rebound, according to Saxo Bank A/S trader Andrea Tueni.
Germany’s DAX Index slid 2.8 percent to its lowest level in 13 months as export-oriented stocks dropped. Volkswagen AG fell 5 percent and steel producer ThyssenKrupp AG retreated 3.5 percent. Commerzbank AG and Deutsche Bank AG also contributed to declines, with losses of at least 5.5 percent.
Among other equities moving on corporate news today, Vinci SA lost 3.1 percent following a report that it has held talks to acquire Abengoa SA’s largest unit.
Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena SpA tumbled 22 percent, leading a gauge of banking stocks lower, as the chief executive officer of Intesa Sanpaolo SpA ruled out an acquisition of its Italian peer.
WH Smith Plc posted the best performance on the Stoxx 600, jumping 5.8 percent after reporting better-than-estimated sales. ASML Holding NV rose 4.7 percent after Europe’s largest semiconductor-equipment maker said it will buy back an additional 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion) of its stock.