Eurozone stocks sag on strong euro while Wall Street tumbles

Data showed the eurozone economy emerged from recession, sending the euro higher (Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV)
Data showed the eurozone economy emerged from recession, sending the euro higher (Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV)

Eurozone equities sagged Tuesday, weighed down by the strong euro as investors digested bright economic news, while Wall Street stocks slumped on disappointing data.

Frankfurt and Paris stocks retreated but the euro jumped against the dollar, as figures showed the eurozone economy emerged from recession in the first quarter with inflation under control. The euro later gave up its gains and turned lower.

London meanwhile zoomed to yet another record peak at 8,199.95 points, with HSBC soaring more than four percent on a bumper stock buyback despite sliding first-quarter profits and the exit of its chief executive.

But the FTSE 100 index couldn't hold its gains and closed lower.

Eurozone gross domestic product grew by a stronger-than-expected 0.3 percent in the first three months of 2024 compared to the prior quarter, having slid into a shallow recession in the second half of last year, official data showed. Annual inflation held at 2.4 percent in April from the previous month.

The figures are unlikely to stop the European Central Bank from cutting interest rates in June, according to economists.

Meanwhile, the US Federal Reserve is predicted to stand pat on rates after a two-day meeting ends on Wednesday, but its statement and boss Jerome Powell's comments will be analyzed for clues about the outlook.

- Euro weighs -

"While the ECB is still expected to cut rates in June, what happens after that remains unclear," City Index analyst Fiona Cincotta told AFP.

Stronger growth and sticky inflation could mean the ECB keeps rates high for longer, which is lifting the euro, she said.

"However, higher borrowing costs for longer are unfavorable for companies, restricting growth, which is why eurozone bourses are heading lower," Cincotta added.

Wall Street stocks tumbled Tuesday after US consumer confidence fell to its lowest level since July 2022, according to The Conference Board.

US consumers, the motor of the world's largest economy, appear less optimistic about the jobs market and more worried about future financial conditions.

The Dow shed 1.5 percent while the broad-based S&P 500 dropped 1.6 percent.

These moves come before the Fed's rate decision, with traders lowering their expectations since early 2024 for how many rate cuts the bank will make.

Inflation continues to hold above target, and various indicators show a resilient economy and labor market, making it likely the Fed keeps rates higher for longer.

Asian markets mostly rose. Tokyo stocks piled on more than one percent as it played catch-up with Asia's gains on Monday, which was a holiday in Japan.

The yen weakened slightly but held much of the previous day's surge that observers speculate came on the back of an intervention by authorities after it hit a fresh 34-year low of 160.17 yen per dollar.

Traders are on guard for further yen volatility after the Bank of Japan decided against shifting further from its ultra-loose monetary policy last week and gave little idea about when it would.

- Key figures around 2030 GMT -

New York - Dow: DOWN 1.5 percent at 37,815.92 points (close)

New York - S&P 500: DOWN 1.6 percent at 5,035.69 (close)

New York - Nasdaq Composite: DOWN 2.0 percent at 15,657.82 (close)

London - FTSE 100: DOWN less than 0.1 percent at 8,144.13 (close)

Paris - CAC 40: DOWN 1.0 percent at 7,984.93 (close)

Frankfurt - DAX: DOWN 1.0 percent at 17,932.17 (close)

EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 1.2 percent at 4,921.22 (close)

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 1.2 percent at 38,405.66 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng Index: UP 0.1 percent at 17,763.03 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: DOWN 0.3 percent at 3,104.82 (close)

Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.0673 from $1.0721 on Monday

Dollar/yen: UP at 157.80 yen from 156.35 yen

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.2493 from $1.2563

Euro/pound: UP at 85.41 pence from 85.33 pence

Brent North Sea Crude: DOWN 0.6 percent at $87.86 per barrel

West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 0.8 percent at $81.93 per barrel