UK markets closed

LIVE MARKETS-France's general strike, is this time different?

* European shares dip ahead of big events this week

* Investors await for Fed and ECB meetings, UK vote, trade deadline

* European bourses down between 0.1% and 1%

* Wall Street futures in the red

* Tullow Oil slumps 60% as CEO quits, co scraps dividend Welcome to the home for real-time coverage of European equity markets brought to you by Reuters stocks reporters and anchored today by Julien Ponthus Reach him on Messenger to share your thoughts on market moves:


Are markets being complacent over the general strike in France?

After over a year of civil unrest led by the "yellow vests" and weekly demonstrations with their lot of looted and burning shops, Macron's fresh tug of war with the unions over his plans to reform the French pay-as-you-go pension system is widely seen as business as usual.

The Paris stock market and the French economy are currently outperforming the rest of the euro zone year-to-date so investors might very well be tempted to ignore and dismiss recent industrial action as just another outburst of Gallic folklore.

But as the country braces itself for another national day of industrial action and demonstration on Tuesday, it's probably worth having a look at what the locals are saying.

One point made by Ostrum AM's (formerly Natixis AM) head of research, is that the economic environment is different to that what it was during the general strike of 1995.

Philippe Waechter stresses that domestic demand is what is driving French growth and that unlike last time, global trade wouldn't be able to take over a waning domestic activity should the strike last longer and hit harder than expected.

It also works the other way around: a slowdown in France could also prove a drag for the rest of Europe.

"France has, in the current cycle, a key role in the economic conditions of the euro zone", he writes, warning that a long general strike could jeopardize France's contribution.

Germany was until recently on the verge of a technical recession and with the country's industrial output falling unexpectedly in October the traditional power house of Europe isn't out of the wood just yet.

Here's how the CAC 40 vs the Euro STOXX since Macron got elected in May 2017:

(Julien Ponthus)



Despite the recent positive macro surprises, HSBC is here to remind us that a successful 'phase 1' trade deal between the United States and China is still highly uncertain.

That's why strategists at the UK bank believe it's still too early and risky to switch into the cheap and neglected end of the stock market, and prefer to play it defensive.

"We have seen a string of positive surprises of manufacturing PMIs in the last 3 months already. But instead of initiating an aggressive strategy to play speculative value stocks as our style cycle model suggests, we play the upswing in a more defensive way," they say.

"Value stocks have begun to underperform again although cyclical stocks as a group are in a recovery mode already and our economists do not expect a meaningful upswing in the next 6-12 months to take place," they add.

That being said, they still make a strategy tweak, namely switching from Growth/Momentum to GARP/Momentum, in a move "to prepare for some rotation out of very highly valued growth stocks to those more reasonably valued".

In the chart you see how Growth has materially outperformed value over the last decade.

(Danilo Masoni)



Things can always get worse: shares in Tullow Oil opened down less than 50%, quickly crossed that benchmark and hit the -60% bar within an hour of trading.

Talking about wild moves on the UK market, The Share Centre has just come up with a list of spectacular moves in 2019.

Looking at companies relevant in terms of size or notoriety, Metro Bank is definitely on the list of those likely to exit 2019 with a spectacular black eye. It lost nearly 90% as the disruption of the UK banking industry remains elusive at best.

On the FTSE 100, shares in JD Sports Fashion have more than doubled (+130%) and the retailer is now worth close to 8 billion pounds.

Other examples that retail isn't dead for everyone are Pets at Home with a 120% rise and Boohoo Group with a 70% hike.

Looking at smaller market cap, it's always possible to find extraordinary moves like in the pharma space where breakthroughs pay off handsomely: Silence Therapeutics is up a whopping 930%!

But as stressed by Helal Miah, analyst at The Share Centre, "the worst case scenarios" isn't sustaining a spectacular fall like Tullow, it's being wiped out altogether like Thomas Cook.

One thing companies having experienced an extreme outcome often share is a difficult spot on the UK high street:

(Julien Ponthus)



With the STOXX 600 losing an uninspiring 0.1%, let's get down to where the action is this morning:

Tullow oil is down over 50% after scrapping its dividend and announcing its CEO is leaving. The share is back to 2004 levels and it what is a truly dramatic market move:

Another big mover but on a much wider scale is Osram jumping 12% after AMS announced its bid for the German company had been successful. The Austrian company's shares are logically feeling the weight of the victory on its shoulders with a 3.2% fall.

M&A is definitely the driver today with Tesco up over 5% as it considers retreating from some Asian markets.

Here's an overview of the European bourses 20 minutes after the open. Granted, this is quite dull in comparison with the likes of Tullow, Osram or Tesco!

(Julien Ponthus)



One hot spot will be the battle for food delivery dominance with Dutch technology giant Prosus raising its unsolicited offer for Just Eat to 740 pence per share, valuing the company at around 5.05 billion pounds.

Some M&A also spicing things up in the pharma sector with Sanofi announcing a deal to buy U.S. Synthorx in a cash deal worth around $2.5 billion. There’s probably more to come in the M&A pipeline with the French company ready to update the market on its strategy at an investor day tomorrow.

In Britain, Tesco’s strategy is under the spotlight after it signalled a further retreat from its once lofty global ambitions by starting a review of its remaining Asian businesses, which could result in a sale of those Thai and Malaysian operations.

Meanwhile Swiss drug maker Roche extended its offer again for gene therapy specialist Spark Therapeutics. On Friday Austrian sensor specialist AMS said it had succeeded at its second attempt with a 4.6 billion euro bid for Osram.

Other individual movers: Tullow Oil scrapping its dividends and Amigo shares will be under scrutiny with a management reshuffle.

(Julien Ponthus)



While last Friday's stellar U.S. job data fuelled a rally on both sides of the pound, it seems whatever's left from that momentum is quickly fading out.

Asian stocks did manage to catch up somewhat overnight but a few hours later, as we stand now, there just isn't much wind left in Europe's sails.

Financial spreadbetters expect London's FTSE to open 18 points lower, Frankfurt's DAX to go down 6 points and Paris' CAC to lose 9 points.

(Julien Ponthus)


(Reporting by Danilo Masoni, Joice Alves, Julien Ponthus and Thyagaraju Adinarayan)