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Trade fears regain grip on European shares, real estate stocks fall

LONDON: European shares fell back on Thursday, tracking a decline in Asian trading overnight as weakness in Chinese markets eclipsed optimism that a NAFTA deal could be struck by Friday’s deadline.

The pan-European STOXX 600 fell 0.3 per cent by 0730 GMT, set for its biggest fall in a fortnight, while Germany’s DAX fell 0.4 per cent.

Chinese stocks fell overnight after a Reuters poll showed activity in the factory sector likely slowed for the third straight month in August amid uncertainty over an escalating trade war with the United States.

Trade-sensitive mining stocks tumbled 0.9 per cent and autos fell 0.5 per cent.

Results caused some sharp moves at the stock level.

Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield shares fell 3.1 per cent despite Europe’s largest property company reporting a boost to profits from its acquisition of Australian shopping centre giant Westfield.

UK commercial property firms Intu fell 4.2 per cent after Morgan Stanley cut the stock to underweight from equal-weight, and peer Hammerson also fell 3.9 per cent.

Traders cited Morgan Stanley downgrading its overall view on the European property sector, and cutting Klepierre and Carmila to underweight as well.

Europe’s real estate sector was the worst-performing, down 1.3 per cent.

Swedish radiation therapy gear maker Elekta was the biggest faller, down 6.6 per cent after it reported an unexpected drop in first-quarter operating profit.

Bouygues was a rare gainer, up 4.4 per cent after the French conglomerate stuck to its full year outlook for rising profitability as its telecoms division improved.

IWG shares fell 4.2 per cent after RBC analysts cut the stock to “underperform”.

Troubled Swiss asset manager GAM tumbled a further 5 per cent, hitting its lowest in more than nine years and taking its year-to-date losses to 51 per cent.

GAM shares have sold off sharply since the firm suspended a top director and suspended, then liquidated, some bond funds.


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