European stocks retreat on political unease as Apple lifts Nasdaq to record

The euro has come under pressure after a strong showing by far-right parties in EU Parliament votes, and diminishing expectations of US interest rate cuts (JOHANNES EISELE)
The euro has come under pressure after a strong showing by far-right parties in EU Parliament votes, and diminishing expectations of US interest rate cuts (JOHANNES EISELE)

European stock markets and the euro tumbled Tuesday amid heightened political uncertainty following weekend election results that bolstered far-right parties, while a rally in Apple shares lifted US stocks to fresh records.

French President Emmanuel Macron's risky gamble of calling new legislative elections, after his centrist party's rout in the EU elections at the weekend, has focussed attention on the country's fragile finances.

Major European bourses retreated, with the CAC in Paris losing 1.3 percent.

US bourses also began cautiously, but picked up momentum thanks to a more than seven percent surge in Apple that lifted both the S&P 500 and Nasdaq to records even as the Dow finished lower.

The mixed session came as markets await Wednesday's Federal Reserve interest rate decision and release of consumer price data.

While the Fed is expected to keep interest rates unchanged, US Treasury yields fell Tuesday in a flight to American bonds following weekend elections in Europe that sowed unease about the eurozone.

Ratings agency Moody's has warned that Macron's move could lower France's credit score because it raises the risk of "political instability".

Investors are "carefully assessing the impact of right-wing parties' success in the European Union and its potential effects on the bloc's unity", said Tickmill Group analyst Patrick Munnelly.

The growing spread between French and German government bond yields -- a sign of fading confidence in Paris's fiscal prospects -- reached its highest level Tuesday since 2020.

The French 10-year yield -- its borrowing cost -- stood at 3.24 percent in afternoon trading compared to 2.63 percent for the German note.

In addition, shares in French broadcasters plummeted as speculation grew that a far-right government could privatize France's state TV group, potentially creating new competition for TF1 (down 7.0 percent at the close) and M6 (down 3.1 percent).

"It would increase competition for advertising in a market that would not be able to absorb the arrival of several new rivals," analysts at Oddo BHF said in Paris.

In Asia, investors also took a cautious stance after a tepid start to the week in holiday-thinned trade.

Among individual companies, General Motors advanced 1.4 percent as it lifted its dividend by 33 percent and announced a new share repurchase authorization to repurchase up to $6 billion.

But Boeing dropped 2.4 percent after reporting another weak month of plane deliveries and orders.

The aviation giant is struggling with manufacturing and quality control issues that have prompted greater regulatory scrutiny.

- Key figures around 2040 GMT -

New York - Dow Jones: DOWN 0.3 percent at 38,747.42 (close)

New York - S&P 500: UP 0.3 percent at 5,375.32 (close)

New York - Nasdaq: UP 0.9 percent at 17,343.55 (close)

London - FTSE 100: DOWN 1.0 percent at 8,147.81 (close)

Paris - CAC 40: DOWN 1.3 percent at 7,789.21 (close)

Frankfurt - DAX: DOWN 0.7 percent at 18,369.94 (close)

EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 1.0 percent at 4,965.09 (close)

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 0.3 percent at 39,134.79 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng Index: DOWN 1.0 percent at 18,176.34 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: DOWN 0.8 percent at 3,028.05 (close)

Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.0743 from $1.0765 on Monday

Euro/pound: DOWN at 84.31 pence from 84.55 pence

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.2739 from $1.2731

Dollar/yen: UP at 157.11 yen from 157.04 yen

West Texas Intermediate: UP 0.2 percent at $77.90 per barrel

Brent North Sea Crude: UP 0.4 percent at $81.92 per barrel