European shares capped by Fed hike worries; M&A boosts telecoms

By Reuters

Sep 09, 2014 07:23 AM EDT

European shares slipped for a third straight session on Tuesday, weighed down by companies which trade dollar-denominated commodities such as oil, as investors shortened the odds on an early hike in U.S. interest rates.

Research from Federal Reserve economists published late on Monday showed Fed members expect a higher trajectory for interest rates than investors are pricing in, boosting bond yields and sending the dollar to a 14-month high against the euro.

The euro zone blue-chip Euro STOXX 50 index fell 0.3 percent to 3,259.47 points.

The FTSEurofirst 300 index of European shares was flat at 1,390.21 points. The index has been retreating from a 6-1/2 year high hit on Thursday, at the peak of a four-week rally.

"As the bond markets all gently back up in yield, the equities look round wondering where the prop was that they were resting on," Andy Ash, head of sales at Monument Securities, said.

"Certainly currency moves are still supporting the global dollar carry trade: out of everything else into dollars. That tends to not be good for lesser asset classes in 'everything else' land while the dollar still strengthens."

Dollar-denominated commodities such as oil and gold fell after the Fed's report, pushing shares in oil majors such as Royal Dutch Shell down 1.4 percent and precious metal miner Randgold down 0.5 percent.

On the flip side, the diverging paths of the Fed and the European Central Bank, which cut rates again last week, pressured the euro, boosting the competitiveness of euro zone exporters.

"The earnings momentum has been negative since 2011 and has remained negative so far this year, and currency headwinds have been partly responsible for that," said Ludovic Dufour, portfolio manager at Mandarine Gestion in Paris.

"But given the speed at which the euro is falling now, we may finally see the end of the forecast downgrades."

Analysts at Credit Suisse said they expected the euro's weakness and further stimulus from the ECB to help demand for European steel and upgraded ArcelorMittal to "outperform" from "neutral", sending the stock 1.8 percent higher.


Telecoms shares outperformed, however, helped by fresh mergers and acquisition speculation.

Telecom Italia rose 3.8 percent after America Movil said it would hold talks with Brazil's Oi SA over joining its bid to buy Telecom Italia's Brazil unit.

It led gains on the STOXX Europe Telecoms index, which was up 0.5 percent.

Elsewhere, Swiss engineering group ABB rose 2.3 percent after saying it would buy back $4 billion of shares, offering a sweetener to investors after a series of problems at its power systems unit and in the face of sluggish economic growth.

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