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European stocks tumble as investors shun risk, BASF hit by profit warning

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By Reuters
European stocks tumble as investors shun risk, BASF hit by profit warning
The German share price index DAX graph is pictured at the stock exchange in Frankfurt, Germany, November 28, 2018. REUTERS/Staff   -   Copyright  STAFF(Reuters)

LONDON (Reuters) – Simmering tensions between the U.S. and China dented European shares on Monday as investors fled risk at the start of a highly uncertain week with Britain’s parliamentary vote on Brexit looming.

The pan-European STOXX 600 <.STOXX> index fell 0.8 percent to hit a two-year low once more by 0830 GMT, with Britain’s FTSE 100 <.FTSE> down 0.3 percent. Germany’s DAX <.GDAXI>, the most sensitive to China due to its big exporters, fell 0.9 percent.

Shares in BASF <BASFn.DE> fell 4.3 percent after the German chemicals firm slashed its forecast for 2018 profits on Friday.

It said the decline was mainly due to its chemicals segment while low water levels on the Rhine and weak automotive demand especially in China were also to blame.

BASF peer Symrise <SY1G.DE> also tumbled 3.6 percent, helping drag the pan-European chemicals sector <.SX4P> down 2.3 percent, the worst-performing.

Autos stocks <.SXAP> also fell 1.8 percent as trade tensions took their toll.

Chipmakers AMS <AMS.S>, Siltronic <WAFGn.DE>, STMicro <STM.PA> also fell 2.9 to 5.1 percent as investors ditched the tech sector.

Politics drove some of the biggest moves.

French retail, hotel, and transport stocks tumbled anew after a fourth weekend of “yellow vest” protests which are disrupting the economy.

British energy utilities Centrica <CNA.L> and SSE <SSE.L> both fell around 3 percent as investors held their breath ahead of a crucial vote on Brexit on Tuesday.

Housebuilders Berkeley Group <BKGH.L>, Persimmon <PSN.L>, Taylor Wimpey <TW.L> and Barratt Development <BDEV.L> fell 1.5 to 2.5 percent as nerves built and Peel Hunt cut its ratings.

Outside large-cap moves, shares in Interserve <IRV.L> plunged 71 percent after the embattled British outsourcer said it was in talks with its debt holders and considering converting debt to equity.

(Reporting by Helen Reid; editing by Danilo Masoni)