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StockBeat: PMIs, Thomas Cook, Oil Cast a Pall Over European Stocks

Investing.com -- Summer’s over for European stocks, it seems.

The benchmark Stoxx 600 fell to its lowest in five days on Monday after another bleak round of business surveys from the euro zone’s biggest economies suggested no end to the current slowdown. Germany's DAX led losses with a 1.5% drop, while the Italian FTSE MIB was down 1.2% and the U.K. FTSE 100 was down 0.7%.

According to IHS Markit’s purchasing manager surveys, the German economy contracted for the first time since 2012 in September, defying hopes of a turnaround while the French economy also slowed further.

“The economy is limping towards the final quarter of the year and, on its current trajectory, might not see any growth before the end of 2019,” said IHS’s principal economist Phil Smith.

Germany’s manufacturing sector, for so long the engine room of the region’s economy, contracted at its sharpest rate since the depths of the Great Recession in 2009. The service sector, which had initially held up well as manufacturing had cooled, also registered its first decline in new business since 2014, IHS said.

“The European Central Bank might see its course as vindicated and further loosenings (of monetary policy) – especially after Christine Lagarde takes over – are to be expected,” said analysts at Landesbank Hessen-Thueringen in a research note.

However, it seems clear that any further measures will be resisted by a good part of the council. Dutch central bank governor Klaas Knot, who dissented from last week’s decision to restart quantitative easing, told De Telegraaf newspaper that he still felt the ECB’s actions were “disproportionate” and refused to rule out the risk of Dutch pension payouts being cut as a result of “quasi-permanent” low interest rates.

The negative tone was reinforced by a fresh surge in oil prices as Yemen’s Houthi rebels reportedly warned that Iran is planning another strike on Saudi Arabia before long. Higher oil prices are traditionally bad for the economy of Europe, which is a big net importer of oil and gas. Energy stocks still managed to fall, even so, after hopes for at least an interim trade deal between China and the U.S. faded at the weekend.

The stand-out gainers were airline stocks, which surged as U.K. travel group Thomas Cook went into liquidation. EasyJet rose 4.5% and Ryanair rose 1.8%, while rival travel groups Tui rose 5.9% and On the Beach rose 5.1%.

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