European shares fluctuated through the session and finished the day at their lowest close in nearly six weeks.
Investors traded cautiously as worries that a recovery will be tepid have caused stocks to pull back lately. Among the factors – French consumer spending fell unexpectedly in May and a recovery in the euro zone services sector stalled in June; in addition an industry survey showed sales of previously owned homes in the United States rose at a slower-than-expected pace in May. Downbeat comments from European Central Bank council member Germany’s Axel Weber did not help. Weber said the region’s economy faces difficult times for the next two years and ECB has run out of room to cut interest rates. As a consequence banks lost value; BNP Paribas, Banco Santander, Standard Chartered, Barclays, Lloyds, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Societe Generale and Credit Agricole were all down. Insurers also fell. Retailers, utility companies and drugmakers were among the region’s better performers. Commodity companies benefited from rising metals prices thanks to a weaker dollar.