European shares pull back from one-year high as Next slumps

By Alistair Smout

LONDON, Jan 4 : European shares edged down from a one-year high on Wednesday, with retailers in focus after standout faller Next cut its profit guidance and cautioned on future trade.

The STOXX 600 was down 0.2 percent, pulling back from a one-year high hit in the previous session and on course to snap a three-session winning run.

UK fashion retailer Next fell as much as 14 percent and was last down 8.2 percent, making it the biggest percentage faller on the STOXX 600. The stock has lost nearly 40 percent over the past year.

“The expected sales recovery ahead of Christmas failed to happen, and this rolls through to cautious company sales and (profit) guidance for 2018,” Andrew Hughes, retail analyst at UBS, said in a note.

The move dragged down other high street retailers with UK exposure. Marks & Spencer dropped 4.6 percent and Primark owner Associated British Foods fell 3.2 percent.

The STOXX 600 retail index was down 1 percent, the biggest sectoral faller.

The exception was B&M. The value retailer was the top STOXX 600 riser, up 7 percent, after reporting record Christmas trading.

The STOXX 600 is up nearly 12 percent in the seven weeks since lows hit following the U.S. presidential election, as investors bet that global growth and inflation will rise under President-elect Donald Trump.

Euro zone services PMIs provided further evidence of economic strength, as businesses ended 2016 by ramping up activity at the fastest pace for five-and-a-half years.

Euro zone inflation figures due at 1000 GMT are expected to provide further evidence of rising price pressures.

“Euro zone inflation is taking off due to powerful base effects in energy prices,” said David Kohl, strategist at Julius Baer.

In financials, Credit Suisse shares were up 2.5 percent and in sight of their highest levels in a year following an upgrade by Barclays.

Banks rose 0.4 percent, the top sectoral riser.

UK-listed housebuilders were also among top sectoral gainers, after Deutsche Bank said there was close to 30 percent upside in the sector.

French pharma firm Ipsen hit a record high after Natixis upgraded the stock to “buy” from “hold”.

/Reuters

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