Daimler on Wednesday reported its worst year since 2015 as trade tensions and costly investments drove a slump in profits (THOMAS KIENZLE)

London (AFP) – Europe’s stock markets dipped lower on Wednesday, as investors digested downbeat German economic data and fears continued over the looming threat of a no-deal Brexit.

Frankfurt dropped 0.3 percent as official figures showed that industrial orders in Germany fell back in December, the latest sign of a slowdown in Europe’s largest economy.

The news also sent the European single currency down to $1.138 — the lowest level since January 25.

London stocks meanwhile slipped by 0.1 percent, with online supermarket Ocado hit by a warehouse fire, and lingering concerns over Britain leaving the European Union without a deal next month.

The odds of British Prime Minister Theresa May’s getting concessions from EU leaders at Thursday meeting in Brussels seemed to shrink further after comments by EU leader Donald Tusk.

He said there was a “special place in hell” waiting for those “who promoted Brexit without even a sketch of a plan how to carry it out safely”.

Japanese car giant Toyota weighed in on the issue after slashing its net profit forecast, saying there was no way to avoid a negative impact in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

German statistics office Destatis said the country’s factory orders were down by 1.6 percent from the previous month.

“European equities are on the back foot after a surprise drop in German factory orders this morning added to signs that the region’s strongest economy is struggling,” Oanda analyst Dean Popplewell commented.

“The euro has fallen to its lowest level outright in a fortnight on the news.”

“December saw German factory orders decline at the fastest rate in six months, helping pile further misery on a eurozone which is clearly struggling amid global trade woes,” added IG analyst Joshua Mahony.

“With Brexit uncertainty and US-led trade friction, this decrease in factory orders highlights the weaker demand” often associated with significant upheaval and uncertainty.

Mercedes-Benz maker Daimler added to the bad news, reporting its worst year since 2015.

France’s CAC 40 market was down 0.1 percent following French banking group BNP Paribas reporting a dip in profits.

– Wall Street opens down –

Wall Street opened slightly lower, a day after US President Donald Trump’s annual State of the Union address.

Trump touched upon a number of issues including the China trade war, North Korea, the Russia investigation and healthcare.

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said both sides in the US-China trade negotiations were working “around the clock” to reach an agreement by the March 1 deadline.

He also said the US economy is “still very strong”.

“The US economy continues to perform extremely well” amid signs of “a slowdown in Europe and other parts of the world,” he said.

In Asia, Tokyo and Sydney shares rose in another holiday-thinned trading day, with most of Asia off for the Lunar New Year.

– Key figures around 1500 GMT –

London – FTSE 100: DOWN .1 percent at 7,170.22 points

Frankfurt – DAX 30: DOWN 0.2 percent at 11,339.89

Paris – CAC 40: DOWN 0.1 percent at 5,078.50

EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 0.1 percent at 3,214.08

Tokyo – Nikkei 225: UP 0.1 percent at 20,874.06 (close)

Sydney – S&P/ASX 200: UP 0.3 percent at 6,026.10 (close)

Hong Kong – Hang Seng: Closed for a public holiday

New York – Dow: DOWN 0.1 percent at 25,378.79

Shanghai – Composite: Closed for a public holiday

Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.1387 from $1.1406

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 109.74 yen from 109.96

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.2978 from $1.2945 at 2200 GMT Tuesday

Euro/pound: DOWN at 87.73 pence from 88.09 pence

Oil – Brent Crude: DOWN seven cents at $61.91 per barrel

Oil – West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 10 cents at $53.55


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