Skip to main content

In Europe Friday, a strengthening euro and a rout in automaker stocks helped drive major benchmarks lower across the board. 

Taking heart from ECB head Mario Draghi's Thursday suggestion that the central bank may soon begin to reconsider its current monetary policy, the euro continued to take ground from many of its peers during the Friday session, which added weight around the ankles of an already-struggling set of markets. 

But it was carnage in the European automotive space that really helped sink the boat on Friday with multiple factors conspiring to hit the sector hard during the session. 

London's FTSE 100 was the least worst performer for the session after having notched up a loss of 0.51% little more than an hour out from the close. The index was quoted at 7,449 while its mid-market FTSE 250 sibling was down 0.54% at 19,657.

In Paris, the automotive and euro denominated CAC 40 index was 1.81% lower at 5,104, while the DAX in Frankfurt was quoted 1.90% down, at 12,215. Stocks in Southern Europe were also broadly lower. 

In Frankfurt, Volkswagen AG (VLKAY) slid by nearly 4% after its Audi unit said it would recall hundreds of thousands of vehicles to fix engine software in a bid to reduce their emissions output, while a fresh diesel-linked scandal brewed around the German car industry.

Scroll to Continue

TheStreet Recommends

Close to 850,000 cars carrying specific kinds of six-cylinder and eight-cylinder engines were affected by the recall initially, although the VW Group is also expected to recall Volkswagen and Porsche-branded cars.

The recall announcement came as Spiegel Online reported that the entire German auto industry is now under suspicion of having operated as a cartel since the 1990s. It cited information disclosed to the competition authorities and alleged that the industry discussed technology, costs, suppliers and "the exhaust purification of its diesel vehicles in secret working circles."

More than 200 employees of the industry are said to have been involved in what could become one of the biggest cartel cases in German corporate history. The paper will publish a full report into the investigation on Saturday, July 22.

Accordingly, BMW AG (BMWYY) , Daimler (DDAIF) and Continental (CTTAY) shares were also found cluttering up the bottom of the DAX Friday, with losses of 2.7% or more. 

In France, automotive parts maker Valeo (VLEEY)  reported an in-line set of first-half profits after the market closed Thursday but analysts and investors punished the parts supplier during the Friday session, mostly on concerns over weak cash conversion and deteriorating margins. The shares were pummeled Friday, making them the worse performer on the CAC 40, with a 6.5% fall. 

Peugeot (PEUGF) and Renault (RNSDF) also sustained heavy losses, possibly in part due to concerns over Diesel Gate, ahead of a key court ruling in the bankruptcy of French parts maker GM&S. 

The weaker performance in London was partially offset by gains at colostomy bag maker ConvaTec (CNVVY) , which built on its expansion into the U.S. Friday with the aquisition of America's largest catheter supplies business Thursday, prompting positive reviews from analysts and investors alike on Friday. The shares topped the FTSE 100 with a gain of just more than 2%. 

This is while Paysafe (NVAFF) became the latest company to engage in the payments sector deal frenzy when it announced the acquisition of a privately owned payment processor and said that it is being pursued by Blackstone (BX) - Get Blackstone Inc. Report and CVC Capital Partners. The shares were up more than 6% a short time ahead of the close.