European stocks fell Tuesday as investors shunned industrials and other risk stocks on an array of concerns, ranging from the Middle East to domestic terrorism and politics.
An emerging rift between Gulf states has placed a question mark over the OPEC oil agreement as well as stability in the region. Renewed concerns over terrorism and a looming election in the U.K. were also themes that hung in the background, ahead of Thursday's European Central Bank meeting.
Aluminum, copper, lead and nickel were all lower by just less by 0.50% while iron ore and lead both fell nearly 2%. Brent crude, the European benchmark, dropped around 0.50%, remaining below $50 per barrel throughout the session.
The FTSE 100 dropped 0.01% to close at 7,524 in London. Over in Frankfurt the DAX index shed 1.04% to close at 12,690 while, in Paris, the CAC 40 fell 0.73% to settle at 5,269.
Over in southern Europe benchmarks were mixed with the IBEX in Madrid posting a fractional loss for the session while the FTSE MIB in Milan had eked out a small gain a short time before the close.
In individual stocks, colostomy bagmaker Convatec (CNVVY) was the biggest faller in London after private equity firms Nordic Capital and Avista sold off an 800 million stake in the company, part of which was sold on the London Stock Exchange in an initial public offering back in October. The shares fell more than 4%.
In Paris, the biggest faller was ArcelorMittal (MT) - Get Report which, quite apart from being a steel and mining firm, received the final authorization to acquire Europe's largest steel plant by output capacity Tuesday. The shares slid nearly 2.5%.
At the sector level, financial stocks were weaker once again, with Spain's Banco Popular (BPESF) continuing its descent toward the Hades of poorly capitalized banks with a near 8% loss.
Tuesday's price action brings total losses in the week to date to more than 50%, with much of the damage having been wrought by a news report suggesting that European officials are privately hatching a plan to wind it up in the event that it is unable to reduce its mammoth pile of nonperforming loans.
Airline stocks bucked the continental trend Tuesday thanks to an increasingly uncertain outlook for oil prices and bullish sentiments expressed by assorted CEOs at an industry conference Monday.
Lufthansa AG (DLAKY) led the European airline sector higher Tuesday after CEO Carsten Spohr said that he is getting more optimistic every week regarding the demand situation the company is facing.
Airfrance KLM (AFLYY) was another big gainer in the space Tuesday, up around 4%, and extending its gain since the beginning of January to more than 104%.
KLM chief executive Pieter Elbers also iterated a positive outlook for the current fiscal year, saying that long-haul bookings and unit revenue were both healthy.
He also said that KLM is looking at its relationships with third party bookings providers now that its major rivals have implemented surcharges for bookings made through third parties.