European markets drop, as gloom spreads to online retailers

European markets drop, as gloom spreads to online retailers

H&M tumbles 9% as retailer take a hit

European markets ended lowerl Monday, as investors cautiously approached the final full week of trading in 2018 ahead of the Christmas break and retailers crumbled after a London-based company warned on profits.

Drug and bank stocks also fell, while mining stocks provided some support for the main index.

How are markets trading?

The Stoxx Europe 600 SXXP, -0.14% fell 1.1% to close at 343.26, after ending last week up 0.5%.

Germany’s DAX 30 DAX, +0.43% fell 0.9% to 10,772.20, and Italy’s FTSE MIB index I945, +0.23% declined 1.1% to 18,693.45. While France’s CAC PX1, -0.11%shed 1.1% to 4,799.87 and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 UKX, -0.41%  declined 1.1% to end at 6,773.24, after finishing up 1% last week.

What is driving the markets?

The retail sector was under pressure in Europe after online clothing group ASOS PLC ASC, +4.74% plunged 38% after cutting its sales growth and profit margins forecast. The company, which lists on London’s Alternative Investment Market of smaller companies, cited poor November sales with sharply falling margins for the warning.

Central banks will be in focus this week with a Federal Open Market Committee meeting and expected interest-rate hike on Wednesday, and the Bank of England due to meet Thursday, though the latter isn’t expected to announce any changes to interest rates given the uncertainty surrounding Brexit. U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May is reportedly trying to rule out the idea of a second referendum over Brexit, as she struggles to keep her exit deal alive.

U.S. stocks remained under pressure after closing sharply lower on Friday.

What stocks are active?

Mining heavyweights were among the biggest gainers on Monday, with BHP Group PLC BHP, -0.66% rising 2.7% after the company said it purchased 5% of its stock in $5.2 billion buyback funded by the sale of its U.S. shale unit. Glencore PLC GLEN, -0.34% rose by 1.1%, Rio Tinto PLC RIO, -0.97%  climbed 2.4% and Anglo America PLC AAL, +0.46%  advanced 0.8%.

Swedish fashion retailer Hennes & Mauritz AB HMB, -0.32%  slid 8.5% after it reported fourth-quarter sales grew in line with expectations. Other retailers were down as well on Monday, with Marks and Spencer Group PLC MKS, +1.99% and Next PLC NXT, +2.13% both losing 4.6% and Adidas AG ADS, +0.91%  falling by over 4%.

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