Europe Stocks Erase Most Losses in Aftermath of Brussels Attacks

  • Eurotunnel, insurers also decline, Securitas advances
  • Stoxx 600 trims an intraday slide of as much as 1.6%

European Close: Focus on Travel and Leisure Stocks

European shares recovered most of their intraday losses at the close, while airlines and hotel stocks slid after multiple explosions in Brussels.

Map of Brussels

Bloomberg

Air France-KLM Group, Ryanair Holdings Plc and hotel operator Accor SA slipped 3.3 percent or more, dragging travel and leisure shares to the worst performance on the Stoxx Europe 600 Index. The benchmark fell 0.2 percent at the close, paring an earlier drop of as much as 1.6 percent as technology shares climbed.

Bomb blasts rocked Brussels airport and a central subway station today, causing death and injuries. Flights in and out of Brussels were canceled and security precautions were stepped up at travel hubs around Europe. While travel stocks fell today, history has shown that such reactions tend to be short-lived.

“The stock reaction is reflecting a cautious attitude from investors after the attack,’’ said Pierre Mouton, who manages about $9 billion at Notz, Stucki & Cie. in Geneva. “While it may put some investors off Europe because of the perception of increased geopolitical risk, I don’t see it as weighing long term on stocks, beyond the initial reaction.”

The following shares were also active after the attacks:

* Groupe Eurotunnel SE, which operates rail tunnels between England and France, slid 3.8 percent.
* Airport companies Aeroports de Paris and Fraport AG Frankfurt Airport Services Worldwide declined 2.3 percent or more.
* Assicurazioni Generali SpA, Standard Life Plc and Axa SA led declines among European insurers, down at least 1.2 percent.
* Swedish firm Securitas AB, whose services include airport security, rose 3.7 percent.

The VStoxx Index of volatility expectations in euro-area shares was up 1 percent, trimming an earlier surge of as much as 11 percent. The volume of Stoxx 600 shares changing hands was 22 percent lower than the 30-day average, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

The Stoxx 600 hasn’t posted back-to-back gains in more than a week, a sign that the rally that pushed it to a two-month high may be running out of steam. Before that, the gauge rebounded as much as 14 percent since a Feb. 11 low, helped by optimism over central-bank policies.

Thomas Cook Group Plc lost 4.3 percent after saying 2016 summer bookings have been lower than last year. Sports Direct International Plc tumbled 11 percent after the Times cited founder Mike Ashley as saying the retailer can’t match last year’s profit. 

Technology shares reversed early declines to rise 0.9 percent as a group, the best performers in the Stoxx 600, as Imagination Technologies Group Plc rallied 5.4 percent. The British chipmaker surged as much as 22 percent after a report that Apple Inc. is in talks to buy it. It pared advances after the iPhone maker said it had “some discussions” with the company, but doesn’t plan to bid on it now.

Partners Group Holding AG jumped 7.1 percent after its sales and earnings exceeded estimates.

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