European stocks fell from two-month highs on Thursday, as weak trade data from China dragged down commodities and mining shares and French retailer Carrefour lowered its full-year profits forecast for the second time in three months.
China’s trade surplus shrank more than expected in September, as export growth eased to a seven-month low, reflecting slackening global demand and dwindling confidence levels amid the debt crisis in Europe. The year-over-year growth in exports eased to 17.1 percent in September from 24.5 percent in the previous month. The consensus forecast called for a slowdown to 20.8 percent.
The Euro Stoxx 50 index of euro zone blue chippers is declining 1.4 percent, while the Stoxx Europe 50 index, which includes some major U.K. companies, is down 1.1 percent. Elsewhere in Europe, Switzerland’s SMI, the U.K.’s FTSE 100, the German DAX and the French CAC 40 are down between 0.9 percent and 1.3 percent.
In stock-specific action, MAN SE, the German truckmaker that Volkswagen is seeking to control, is down 0.9 percent, Bayerische Motoren Werke is declining 1.3 percent and Daimler is down nearly 2 percent.
Shares of France’s largest retailer Carrefour tumbled 5.5 percent after the company cut its full-year profit target for a second time in a few months, citing tough economic conditions. Shares of Roche Holding fell 3.7 percent after reporting third-quarter sales that missed analysts’ estimates.
However, Fraport AG is rising a percent after the airport operator said it had 5.3 million passengers at its Frankfurt Airport home base in September, up more than four percent from a year earlier. Rolls-Royce shares jumped 6.3 percent in London after the engine manufacturer said it is selling its share in the International Aero Engines (IAE) joint venture to Pratt & Whitney.
In economic news, the Bank of England could well decide to increase the size of its current GBP 275 billion quantitative easing programme if the outlook deteriorates further, Deputy Governor Charles Bean said in an interview with the newspaper Guardian. He noted that businesses tend to put investment projects on hold and consumers resort to hold back their spending.
Separately, the European Central Bank said that the provision of liquidity and the allotment modes for refinancing operations will continue to ensure that euro area banks are not constrained on the liquidity side. In a monthly bulletin released Thursday, the central bank said that all the non-standard measures taken during the period of acute financial market tensions are, by construction, temporary in nature.