European stocks benchmark sinks into bear market

European stocks benchmark sinks into bear market

“The market is currently trying to figure out how deep and how long the recession in Europe is going to be,” said Joachim Klement, head of strategy, accounting and sustainability at Liberum Capital. “This will take some more time and in general we expect a bottom in this bear market not before the first quarter of 2023.”

Latest data showed private-sector activity in the eurozone contracted for a third month as record inflation erodes demand and forces some firms to limit production.

Investors are also paying the most to insure European high-grade corporate bonds against default since the height of the COVID pandemic as monetary tightening and recession fears worsen business conditions.

UK assets tank

In the UK, Liz Truss’s government set out the most radical package of tax cuts since 1972, reducing levies both on worker pay and companies in an effort to boost the long term potential of the economy.

The yield on the 5-year gilt was set for its biggest gain on record, while the pound slumped to the lowest since 1985. The domestically-focused FTSE 250 and exporter-heavy FTSE 100 each fell 2 per cent.

Strategists at banks including Goldman Sachs and Bank of America have also given up on a year-end rally for European stocks, with forecasts for the Stoxx 600 falling by about 5 per cent in the past month, according to the average of 16 estimates in a Bloomberg survey.

Meanwhile, European equity funds posted a 32nd week of outflows, according to a Bank of America note citing EPFR Global data.

Corporate earnings hit

“We are facing one of the most aggressive and globally pervasive monetary tightenings of a generation,” said James Athey, investment director at Abrdn.

“For the equity market to move lower by 20 per cent or so and consider that that’s pricing in the macro conditions, I find incredible. The reality is that earnings forecasts are still not reflecting the likelihood of a material growth slowdown ahead.”

Other strategists have warned about a hit to corporate earnings as a spiralling energy crisis further feeds into inflation. Sanford C. Bernstein strategist Sarah McCarthy said this month she expects 12-month forward earnings estimates to be slashed another 10 per cent to 12 per cent.

“The central bank merry-go-round continues to increase the likelihood of recession on a global scale and until such time as the effects of tightening become clearly visible, further volatility alongside skittish investor sentiment is inevitable,” said Richard Hunter, head of markets at Interactive Investor.

Among individual movers, Credit Suisse Group slumped to a record low after the bank was forced to deny a Reuters report that it is considering exiting the US market, signalling that doubts still remain over the troubled lender’s upcoming strategy revamp.

Bloomberg

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