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LIVE MARKETS-Cheers? Not so much. Europe braces for fresh U.S trade front

* European stocks under pressure as Trump impeachment probe knocks confidence * Euro-zone index hits Sept. 5 low, down 1.3% * STOXXE and major bourses set for worst day in 6 weeks * EDF falls as co flags rising Hinkley Point costs * Wall Street falls as Trump transcript with Ukraine president released Welcome to the home for real-time coverage of European equity markets brought to you by Reuters stocks reporters and anchored today by Josephine Mason. Reach her on Messenger to share your thoughts on market moves: rm:// CHEERS? NOT SO MUCH. EUROPE BRACES FOR FRESH U.S. TRADE FRONT (1458 GMT) The market is obsessed today about the U.S. impeachment probe of U.S. President Trump and whether it could derail the U.S.-China trade talks. But Oddo Securities strategist Sylvain Goyon says there's a much greater threat to Europe Inc's health on the nearby horizon: the WTO's official ruling on whether Washington can slap European goods from wine to cheese and aerospace products worth $11.2 billion with hefty import tariffs. Sources say the organisation has approved a U.S. request to impose duties on European goods and a decision in the latest chapter of the dispute over aircraft subsidies is due by Monday. The exact list of goods is not known, but it's expected to target luxury goods, wine, cheese and aerospace and aircraft parts. Punitive tariffs could "eclipse" in the short term any boost from a thawing on the U.S.-China trade front and knock European equities, German ones in particular, hard, says Goyon. A report yesterday said that Washington may rotate the list of products targeted, rather than having a static list, as a way to ramp up uncertainty and hit as many industries as possible. Marc Chandler, chief market strategist at Bannockburn Global Forex, describes the ruling as the "sword of Damocles" hanging over the U.S.-European trade. Sounds like there won't be much to celebrate next week across Europe's vineyards next week, but here's a photo of some lucky wine enthusiasts outside Berlin indulging in vintage Pinot Noir to whet your appetites. (Joice Alves and Josephine Mason) ***** WHAT NEXT IN THE TRAVEL BIZ? "MULTIPLE HEADWINDS" (1425 GMT) Travel & leisure stocks are top fallers today as it looks like the possible market share gains stemming from the demise of UK travel group Thomas Cook are already baked in the prices, while longer-term challenges for the industry remain. "We continue to see multiple headwinds," Jefferies analysts led by Becky Lane say, citing two key concerns: 2020 demand weakness and an increasingly price-sensitive consumer; and hoteliers concerned about balance-sheet risk. Jefferies says the scale of Thomas Cook's failure could potentially lead independent hoteliers to review partners and payment terms. In that respect they note TUI's operating model similarities to Thomas Cook, with a more stretched balance sheet and higher trade payables compared to competitors Dart Group and On The Beach. Jefferies estimates that in the six months to end March TUI took on average 63 days to pay invoices. That compares to 24 for Dart and 7 for OTB. They also think that OTB and Dart will benefit most from Thomas Cook's price-sensitive customers but they don't see TUI lowering prices, given its fixed-cost base. To sum it up, they conclude: "We think investors will continue to question capital-intensive business models". TUI was last down 5.2%, giving back half of the gains it made at one point in the aftermath of Thomas Cook's collapse. Dart was up 1% and OTB was down 2%. (Danilo Masoni) ***** U.S. PRESIDENT IMPEACHMENTS: WHAT DOES HISTORY TELL US? (1144 GMT) Global stocks are selling off to the news of impeachment probe into U.S. President Trump, can history tell us anything about how markets handle an investigation into a U.S. president? There are only two recent precedents to draw comparison to: 1. in 1974, when President Nixon was probed and then resigned 2. in 1998, when Clinton was probed and acquitted In those cases, impeachments in itself did not directly hurt stock markets during the process, apart from a knee-jerk reaction right after the announcement. It may well be no different this time -- traders say the markets are pulling back today on worries that the investigation could potentially disrupt U.S.-China trade negotiations, dragging the trade war further. "It (impeachment) is preliminary and I doubt it could get to the end. It is not a real threat per se," says Sylvain Goyon, head of equity strategy at Oddo BHF Securities. After all, there are many other things to worry about - lack of growth in Europe and the slowing Chinese economy are the biggest concerns around the trade war, says Goyon. The chart below shows how the S&P 500 moved after Nixon's impeachment in 1974 and Clinton's in 1998. S&P 500 fell 18% during Nixon's impeachment in 1974 against a backdrop of a recession following the oil shock of late 1973 and during Clinton's the index rose 24% as Fed eased interest rates amid crisis in emerging markets and tech stocks were soaring. On Trump's impeachment, JPM says: "There is little justification for altering asset allocation now, unless one thinks that this issue is the decisive one that tips the U.S. economy into sub-trend growth and/or a profits recession. To us, impeachment more seems yet another constraint on returns over the next year, given the newer uncertainties created around international and domestic policy." For more stories on impeachments and markets: Trump impeachment? History suggests Wall Street ought not worry LIVE MARKETS U.S.-Trump says impeachment would crash market. Wall St says meh (Thyagaraju Adinarayan and Joice Alves) ***** SEPTEMBER: INVESTORS TIPTOE BACK INTO STOCKS BUT... (1050 GMT) This month is drawing to its close on a rather downbeat note with the start of impeachment proceedings against Trump adding to risks facing markets, but still September has actually seen a return of inflows into stocks after nearly one year. Barclays says the first inflows into global equities since November 2018 was driven by mutual funds adding back to the U.S. with long-only funds halting their flight to safety on a backdrop of improving US economic surprises, Fed/ECB easing and trade/Brexit optimism. Hedge funds reducing their short positions and a pick up in buy-backs was also helpful. But is it time to uncork champagne? Likely not. "While positioning is still cautious and U.S. economic surprises improved lately, more is needed for equities to breakout from the YTD range as they did in late 2016," say strategists at the UK bank by Emmanuel Cau. "Their year-long underperformance vs bonds is unlikely to reverse until macro indicators and EPS revisions bottom-out," they add. Inflows into global stocks were $17.7 billion last month. U.S. had inflows for $34.4 billion but Europe still suffered with outflows for $4.8 billion, Barclays says, citing EPFR data. All in all, this recent bounce is only a small reversal of the large outflows seen so far this year. (Danilo Masoni) ***** UTILITIES: GOLDEN AGE OF GROWTH (1042 GMT) As the world turns its attention to climate change and decarbonisation, utility companies with high exposure to renewables are likely to be the top beneficiaries with billions of dollars in capital to be pumped into building plants/infrastructure. Green government policies, low interest rates, rising importance of ESG (environmental, social and governance) and lower construction costs are seen as factors making the capital-intensive utility sector attractive, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BAML). "We see renewables as poised to enter a 'Golden Age' of growth." BAML sees about 600 billion euros ($659 billion) in capital expenditure opportunity by 2030 for pan-European utilities. BAML's favourites in the sector are Orsted, EDPR, RWE, SSE and Enel. Apart from policies, decarbonisation and low interest rates, the ESG theme is also playing out well for the sector with 44% of asset owners expected to increase their allocation to ESG-compliant stocks. (Thyagaraju Adinarayan) ***** WASHINGTON DRAMA RATTLES EUROPE (0927 GMT) Losses across Europe are deepening as investors fret about the impact of the impeachment probe into Trump, setting the major bourses on course for their biggest one-day drop in six weeks. The euro-zone stocks index is down 1.4% after hitting its weakest since Sept. 5. The main worry among traders is that extended upheaval on the Capitol Hill will distract lawmakers and chief of the world's No. 1 economy, potentially disrupting negotiations to end the prolonged trade spat with China. The impeachment risk could weaken Trump's bargaining power in those talks and make the Chinese less eager to pursue an immediate accord, one dealer notes, particularly if it dents his ratings and threatens his chances of winning the 2020 election. That said, his support base is known for rally around him when he is under threats. Trade-sensitive tech stocks are leading the European equities market lower with the index down 2.3%. "We have Brexit issues taking a new twist and on top of that we now have impeachment issues against Trump," says one trader. "Trade talks between China and USA are still on going with no clarity. Eco data has been very poor recently with Germany heading for a recession. So in this context with the U.S. markets near highs, the pullback is the most likely outcome from all of this." Some are taking it more in their stride, noting that it's early days in the process and the low risk that Trump will be impeached. To be sure, an impeachment does not necessarily mean Trump will leave office. "It may not be as big an impact as the initial reaction in the market suggests since he's recently pivoted to China and said he wants to get a trade deal done. This may make him more conciliatory," says Rory McPherson, head of investment strategy at Psigma Investment Management. (Danilo Masoni, Thyagaraju Adinarayan and Josephine Mason) ***** OPENING SNAPSHOT: EUROPE AT TWO-WEEK LOWS (0737 GMT) European stocks are hitting two-week lows in early deals as investors shun riskier assets after the Democrats launches an impeachment probe into U.S. President Trump's dealings with Ukraine, raising worries about prolonged political upheaval in the world's No. 1 economy. "It's not been a great 24 hours for the leaders of two of the world's most important economies and old allies. While both would rather be exploring an ambitious new post-Brexit trade deal that will bring the two countries even closer together, they're instead now fighting opposition forces at home intent on bringing them down," says Craig Erlam, senior market analyst, UK & EMEA at Oanda. The euro-zone benchmark is down 0.6%, with Itlay's blue chips down 0.9% and Germany's DAX down 0.5%. Semiconductors are leading the charge lower, with the tech index down 1.3% and oil & gas down 1.2% after a drop in crude prices. Investors are also digesting more negative news from several German industrial machinery companies - Pfeiffer has plunged almost 14% in early deals, set for its worst day in six years. Robotics firm Kuka has hit six week lows after cutting its profit outlook due to weakening auto demand, but the stock has since bounced back and is up 0.1%. The stock has been under severe pressure in recent year amid tumult in the auto sector and fell to five-year lows in August. Among other individual moves, EDF is down 4.7% and the biggest faller on the STOXX 600 after raising the cost of its Hinkley Point project. (Josephine Mason) ***** BEFORE THE OPEN: SNEAKERS, SOAP, FASHION AND ELECTRICITY (0647 GMT) The potential for greater political tumult in Washington that will engulf the U.S. President following the launch of an impeachment probe into Donald Trump's dealing with Ukraine have put heavy pressure on European stock futures this morning. Futures for Germany's export-heavy DAX are down 0.6%, while Eurostoxx 50 are down 0.4%. Not helping sentiment is a profit warning from Pfeiffer Vacuum that it's suffering order delays and expects weaker-than-expected FY results, the latest European (and German) industrial machinery company to cut guidance. While a relatively small company by market cap, the news will underscore concerns about the health of Europe Inc ahead of Q3 results as companies suffer their third straight quarterly decline in profits. Yesterday, German truck and trailer components maker SAF Holland issued a profit alert. Pfeiffer's shares are down as much as 9.5% in pre-market trading and the news could hurt Comet Holdings and Assa Abloy. Cosmetics and soap maker PZ Cussons Plc has said it expects conditions in its key markets to remain challenging for the rest of the first-half, as it reported declining first-quarter revenue in Asia-Pacific and Africa. Its shares are seen down 2%. Still consensus-busting results from Nike, the world's largest footwear maker, overnight could provide a bright spot for Adidas and online fashion company BooHoo shares are expected to get a lift from its H1 results, highlighting the shift in consumer to online away from the high street. Puma may not benefit from the warm glow from Nike though after Gucci-owner Kering announced it's issuing a bond that can be exchanged for shares in the German sports company. Kering owns a 15.7% stake. News that ThyssenKrupp is preparing to replace its CEO after only a year on the job is seen boosting the German steel-to-elevator conglomerate shares. Utilities will be in focus - EDF shares are seen down 5% by one dealer after the French electricity firm warned of spiralling costs from Britain's Hinkley Point C project. The UK's United Utilities forecast higher underlying profit and revenue for the first half. (Josephine Mason) ***** ON OUR RADAR: TRAINERS, ELEVATORS AND VACUUMS (0600 GMT) On the corporate news front, warnings from industrial machinery makers are piling up. The latest comes from Germany's Pfeiffer Vacuum, which warned of delays to orders, cut its FY sales and EBIT margin forecasts in that move that underscores worries about a prolonged European corporate recession and bodes poorly for the upcoming Q3 earnings season. Its shares are down as much as 9.5% in premarket trading. One bright spot overnight for sport retailers though - Nike delivered better-than-expected quarterly revenue and profit after the world's largest footwear maker pushed to sell its sneakers to consumers through its own stores and online retailers gained pace. The news sent shares up 5% and may give Adidas and Puma a lift. Change is afoot at the top of ThyssenKrupp - it plans to end the contract of current Chief Executive Guido Kerkhoff, the latest sign of turmoil at the steel-to-elevators conglomerate, as it tries to restructure itself by selling or listing all or parts of its elevator unit, by far its most profitable business. Here are your early headlines: Pfeiffer Vacuum Technology Adjusts Guidance For 2019 Sales And EBIT Margin Thyssenkrupp CEO Kerkhoff to leave, chairwoman Merz to take over As Thomas Cook customers return home, blame game begins Derichebourg Announces Sale Of Its Activities In Morocco Novartis blames former AveXis executives for Zolgensma data manipulation Greek utility Public Power Corp shrinks first-half loss Bain and Advent in advanced talks about new Osram bid -sources Fiat manager charged with lying about emissions even after VW scandal Renault-FCA merger "behind us", French carmaker says (Josephine Mason) ***** THE WORRIES PILE UP (0517 GMT) As if investors didn't have enough to worry about from a slowing euro-zone (global) economy, the U.S. trade spat with China to Brexit. Now political turmoil is set to roil Washington and financial markets after the House of Representatives launched impeachment investigation into President Trump over his dealings with Ukraine. The move has stirred worries about a prolonged period of upheaval in Washington, which could spill into the 2020 election and could distract the head of the world's No. 1 economy as he prepares for the next round of talks with Beijing over trade. Wall Street sold off and Asian equities are under pressure overnight. IG financial spreadbetters expect London's FTSE to open 17 points lower at 7,274, Frankfurt's DAX to open 24 points lower at 12,283, and Paris' CAC to open 15 points lower at 5,613. (Josephine Mason) ***** ($1 = 0.9098 euros) (Reporting by Danilo Masoni, Josephine Mason and Thyagaraju Adinarayan)