European shares fell back as global markets took a risk-averse turn, with cyclical sectors including mining and financials suffering the sharpest losses.
Europe’s STOXX 600 ended down 0.9 percent, suffering its biggest one-day loss since early November.
“Today is more of a temporary blip rather than a fundamental change in direction for equities. There were a number of technical indicators pointing towards market complacency and today’s move should provide some relief,” said Prabhav Bhadani, equity strategist at JP Morgan.
The cyclical sectors leading the charge year-to-date were the worst hit as investors took profits after a strong run.
Goldman Sachs analysts said a correction was becoming increasingly likely as the new year ‘melt-up’ in stocks had helped the S&P 500 and MSCI World enter their longest period without a correction of more than 5 percent.
Mining and financial stocks were the biggest weight, while defensive sectors outperformed.
“You are seeing some sector rotation with again the winners hit the hardest. People are still looking to stay invested but looking at things that have not performed, looking at value,” said Bhadani.
Basic resources stocks .SXPP sank 1.6 percent, the biggest sectoral fallers as metals prices tumbled, dented by the strengthening dollar. Anglo American was among the worst-performing.
Europe’s banking stocks .SX7P also fell 1.3 percent while financial services stocks dropped 0.8 percent.
Results drove the bulk of trading, with investors rewarding Swatch and Alfa Laval while Leonardo, Loomis and Philips disappointed.
Leonardo was bottom of the STOXX, down 12 percent. The Italian defense contractor pledged double digit profit growth in its first business plan under CEO Alessandro Profumo but disappointed investors on shorter term prospects, months after a profit warning clubbed shares.
Loomis fell 7.6 percent after the Swedish support services firm reported fourth-quarter profit missed forecasts.
Swatch gained 5.1 percent after impressive results. The Swiss watchmaker’s profit rose 28 percent in 2017, and it said it expected ‘very positive’ growth in 2018.
“The only fly in the ointment is the 20bps margin miss for the full year and approximately 50bps in the second half vs our and the market’s expectation, but this should be easy to digest given the overall good (top line) performance,” said Baader Helvea analysts.
Outside of results-driven moves, Telecom Italia rose as much as 3.75 percent after sources said it had proposed to separate its network assets.
Swedish engineering group Alfa Laval rose 2.5 percent after its fourth quarter order intake far exceeded market forecasts.
Wind turbine maker Siemens Gamesa gained 3.8 percent after its first-quarter results, bringing peer Vestas Wind up with it to the top of the STOXX.
Siemens Gamesa reported orders significantly above brokers’ estimates, and a trader said the market was short the stock, making any good news an even bigger boost.
Medical technology firm Philips fell back 3.7 percent, with traders pointing to the firm missing fourth-quarter earnings and revenue expectations.