European Shares Retreat Amid Risk Aversion

European stocks retreated on Friday, with Fed policy tightening worries and growing concerns over Ukraine denting sentiment.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said on Thursday she was confident the Federal Reserve and the Biden administration would take steps needed to bring down inflation during 2022.

President Joe Biden on Wednesday said he supports Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell’s expected move to start tightening monetary policy.

The top diplomats of Russia and the United States are to hold talks over Ukraine in Switzerland today after a flurry of meetings between officials on both sides in the last week produced no breakthroughs.

The pan European Stoxx 600 fell 1.3 percent to 477.18 after gaining half a percent on Thursday. The German DAX lost 1.4 percent, France’s CAC 40 index shed 1.3 percent and the U.K.s FTSE 100 was down over 1 percent.

Close Brothers fell nearly 3 percent. The merchant banking group said it has performed well so far this year and expects to deliver a solid first half performance across its businesses.

The Restaurant Group rose 1.2 percent. The company said it now expects fiscal 2021 adjusted EBITDA will be at the top end of the previously provided range and year-end net debt will be less than 180 million pounds.

In economic releases, U.K. consumer confidence weakened in January amid concerns over higher inflation and interest rate hikes, survey results from GfK showed.

The consumer confidence index fell to -19 in January from -15 in the previous month. All five measures of the index were down in comparison to the December 17th data.

Separately, the Office for National Statistics reported that U.K. retail sales declined more than expected at the end of the year.

Retail sales fell 3.7 percent on a monthly basis in December, reversing the 1 percent increase a month ago. Sales were forecast to fall 0.6 percent. This was the biggest decline since January 2021.

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