European stocks opened slightly lower on Friday after a slump in Asian equities that followed two U.S. executive orders against China’s most popular mobile apps, raised fears of further escalation, while the U.S. Congress faced an impasse on stimulus efforts.
The region’s Stoxx Europe 600 benchmark fell 0.3% as of 8:22 a.m. in London, with automotive and banking stocks posting the biggest drops. Stronger-than-expected industrial output data in Germany limited the decline.
Equities in the region remain about 4% below their post-lockdown peak reached in mid-July, and have since struggled to return above their 50-day moving average. Cyclical stocks including miners, industrials and retailers have outperformed in the weeks since, further closing the gaping discount to defensives that had opened up as markets troughed in March.
European defensive stocks’ premium is falling back towards pre-Covid levels
Sino-U.S. conflict over mobile apps is “more of a tech thing than anything else,” and therefore has limited implications for Europe due to its relatively small tech industry, CMC Chief Market Analyst Michael Hewson said in a phone interview. European markets are underpinned by “fairly solid” German industrial output data, he said.
Hikma Pharmaceuticals Plc was the region’s top-performing stock, rising as much as 7.6% after forecasting stronger full-year sales than analysts had expected. Broker TP ICAP Plc trailed the market, falling 10% after cautioning of recent weakness in trading activity.