European Stocks Decline Fourth Day as Earnings Fail to Encourage

Societe Generale's Cost Cuts as a European Bank Blueprint
  • BHP Billiton leads commodity producers lower on Brazil lawsuit
  • Societe Generale advances as earnings beat estimates

European stocks posted their longest losing streak in more than a month as the latest batch of earnings failed to lift investor sentiment.

Anheuser-Busch InBev NV slipped 1.6 percent after the world’s largest brewer posted sales and profit growth that missed analysts’ estimates. BHP Billiton Ltd. dragged miners lower, falling 5.8 percent as commodities sank and Brazilian prosecutors filed a $44 billion civil suit over a November dam rupture. Royal Dutch Shell Plc lost 2.2 percent even as it posted a lower-than-forecast drop in first-quarter profit. Societe Generale SA added 1.7 percent after reporting an unexpected increase in earnings.

The Stoxx Europe 600 Index dropped 1.1 percent to 331.8 at the close of trading. The equity gauge has lost momentum after rallying to a three-month high on April 20, with investors intensifying their focus on financial results amid lackluster economic data. Analysts have slashed profit projections for Stoxx 600 firms this year, reversing earlier calls for growth to forecast a decline.

“It’s looking fragile despite the latest clutch of European earnings coming out rather better than expected,” said Mike Ingram, a market strategist at BGC Partners in London. “Markets buy the future, not the past, and the outlook for the global economy remains far from clear. Conviction levels against a further slide remain low and, given the bounce from February lows, it’s prudent to take some money off the table.

Among other stocks moving on corporate news, London Stock Exchange Group Plc fell 4.2 percent after Intercontinental Exchange Inc. said it wouldn’t bid for the bourse operator. The decision clears the way for Deutsche Boerse AG to combine with the British exchange in a deal that would create the biggest operator in Europe. Deutsche Boerse jumped 5.8 percent.

Randgold Resources Ltd. tumbled 12 percent, the most in more than four years, after reporting first-quarter production of the precious metal fell 11 percent after operational problems at two of its African mines. U.K. supermarket chain J Sainsbury Plc led a gauge of retailers lower, dropping 6.3 percent after announcing a decrease in annual profit.

Deutsche Telekom AG slipped 2.1 percent after posting a 2.5 percent-drop in German sales, even as total revenue beat forecasts and earnings rose. Fraport AG slid 6.1 percent after the operator of Frankfurt airport reported quarterly earnings and sales that missed estimates.

A.P. Moeller-Maersk A/S jumped 6.4 percent after reporting a smaller decline in first-quarter profit than estimated as it stepped up cost cuts at its oil unit.

Siemens AG advanced 1.4 percent after posting higher-than-forecast second-quarter profit as contracts for power plants in Egypt and wind turbines in the U.K. helped bolster its order books. HeidelbergCement AG gained 1.4 percent after the world’s third-largest cement-maker forecast profit and sales will rise in 2016 as it reported first-quarter earnings that beat analyst estimates. 

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