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European shares dip as corporate pain from coronavirus outbreak grows

Published 04/03/2020, 03:25 PM
Updated 04/03/2020, 03:30 PM
© Reuters.
PRU
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ZURN
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AXAF
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HMb
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MUVGn
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BAES
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STOXX
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(For a live blog on European stocks, type LIVE/ in an Eikon
news window)
April 3 (Reuters) - European stock markets headed lower on
Friday, erasing meagre gains for the week, as more companies
flagged a hit to business from the coronavirus pandemic,
foreshadowing a deeper earnings recession ahead of the reporting
season.
The pan-European STOXX 600 index .STOXX was down 0.2% at
0705 GMT, with energy stocks tracking a slide in oil prices as
investors grew doubtful about a Saudi-Russia deal that U.S.
President Donald Trump said he had brokered. O/R
Zurich Insurance Group AG ZURN.S , AXA SA AXAF.PA , Munich
Re MUVGn.DE and Prudential PRU.L fell between 1.9% and 4.2%
after the European Union's insurance regulator asked insurers
and reinsurers to temporarily suspend dividends and share
buybacks. With the virus still spreading rapidly in Europe and
prompting further halts in business activity, analysts have
slashed earnings estimates for the second and third quarters,
while dividends for the year are now expected to fall as much as
40%. Britain's BAE Systems BAES.L fell 1.3% after saying it
would defer a decision on whether to pay its dividend and
launching cost control measures following significant disruption
from the virus outbreak. H&M HMb.ST , the world's second-biggest clothing retailer,
reported a 46% plunge in March sales and said it expected a loss
in its fiscal second quarter. However, the company's shares, which have lost 40% of their
value since end January, jumped 5% as it said was taking steps
to strengthen its liquidity buffer and cut operating expenses.

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