By Susan Mathew
(Reuters) -European shares gave up early gains on Wednesday as weak German retail sales and slowing factory activity in the euro zone fanned worries about economic growth amid record high inflation.
The pan-European STOXX 600 index was down 0.3%, after gaining as much as 0.4% in early trading. The benchmark shed 1.6% in May as surging inflation stoked worries about aggressive central bank action.
German retail sales fell a more-than-expected 5.4% in April, data showed, while manufacturing growth in the euro zone slowed last month as factories faced supply shortages, high prices and a fall in demand.
“The price action we have seen this week in stocks is very much indicative of the overall uncertainty in the markets at present,” said Stuart Cole, head macro economist at Equiti Capital.
“Yesterday’s stronger-than-expected inflation figures from the EU re-ignited fears about how high interest rates might be raised generally. The key fear is that central bank actions will inadvertently induce recessions.”
Deutsche Bank economists raised expectations over European Central Bank policy tightening and expect 50 basis points increase in interest rates in September.
On the STOXX 600, declines in commodity linked stocks and tech outweighed gained in banks and consumer shares.
Regional bourses were mixed. Commodity heavy FTSE 100 slipped 0.1%, while Germany’s DAX gained 0.2%, lifted by automakers.
The STOXX 600 has marked losses for all months except March this year, as investors worried about high inflation, central bank policy tightening and the fallout from the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
Investor hopes that inflation might have peaked are being challenged by oil prices, which climbed over $120 per barrel on Tuesday after European Union leaders agreed to a partial and phased ban on Russian oil. [O/R]
Among individual stocks, British footwear brand Dr. Martens surged 26.2% after it forecast higher annual revenue growth, thanks to price hikes made in response to soaring inflation and stronger sales of its shoes and boots.
Deutsche Bank’s asset manager DWS slumped 7% after its chief executive officer said he would step down next week, as the company faced allegations of misleading investors about “green” investments.
(Reporting by Susan Mathew in Bengaluru; Editing by Rashmi Aich and Sriraj Kalluvila)