European shares end flat as energy gains limit losses; central bank decisions in focus

By Bansari Mayur Kamdar and Shashwat Chauhan

(Reuters) -European shares ended subdued on Tuesday as gains in energy stocks countered losses in industrials, though investors exercised caution ahead of a slew of central bank decisions around the world this week.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index held steady at 456.52 points, while Germany’s DAX dipped 0.4%.

Industrials extended losses to a second straight session, with Germany’s Deutsche Post dropping 6.5%.

Investors trod cautiously ahead of interest rate decisions by major central banks this week, including the U.S. Federal Reserve on Wednesday and Bank of England, Swiss National Bank, Riksbank and Norges Bank on Thursday.

Official data showed euro zone consumer inflation in August was slightly lower than initially estimated, but remained more than twice the European Central Bank’s target.

“It’s helpful, any data that shows inflationary pressures easing,” said Dan Boardman-Weston, chief executive & chief investment officer of BRI Wealth Management.

“What isn’t necessarily helpful for the interest rate argument is the moves we’ve seen in commodities … It’s going make central banks’ job harder over the coming months.”

Europe’s energy sector advanced 1.0% as crude prices jumped more than 1% on mounting supply concerns.

Real estate stocks also added 1.0% after falling more than 2% in the previous session.

Technology stocks eased 0.6%, stuttering for a third straight session.

Adding to nerves, the euro area’s benchmark 10-year Bund yield approached its highest levels in over 12 years on Tuesday after ECB officials reiterated that rates would stay at the current levels for an extended period. [GVD/EUR]

ECB policymaker Francois Villeroy de Galhau said the ECB would keep rates at 4% for as long as needed after some policy hawks recently called for rates to stay at high levels for longer, without ruling out an additional hike.

The Bank of Spain lowered the country’s economic growth forecasts for 2024 and 2025 due to the impact of rising energy costs that also spurred it to raise its inflation estimates for this year and next.

Retailers dipped 1.6% as shares of Kingfisher dropped 12.2% after the European home improvement retailer cut its annual profit forecast.

British online supermarket Ocado Retail, a joint venture between Ocado Group and Marks & Spencer, maintained its full-year outlook. Marks & Spencer added 2.7%, while Ocado Group shares rose 1.6%.

Swedish paper and packaging company Billerud gained 6.7% as Jefferies raised its rating to “buy”.

(Reporting by Bansari Mayur Kamdar and Shashwat Chauhan in Bengaluru; editing by Rashmi Aich, Janane Venkatraman and Mark Heinrich)