European Stocks Sag on Banco Espirito Santo Fears, Deflation Worries

LONDON (The Deal) -- European stock indices fell on Thursday amid a plethora of earnings reports as eurozone consumer price figures suggested aggressive central bank tactics haven’t shaken off the specter of deflation.

European Commission statistics showed the July annual inflation rate in the eurozone was 0.4%, down from 0.5% and below consensus expectations. On the brighter side, German unemployment in June fell more than expected, government figures showed, though the rate was unchanged at 6.7%.

In London the FTSE 100 was down 0.40% at 6,746.54. The DAX in Germany fell 1.24% to 9.476.58 and in Paris the CAC 40 lost 0.91% to 4,272.85.

In Frankfurt, Adidas (ADDYY) slumped 15% as the sporting-goods maker said 2014 earnings will be up to 30% lower than previously predicted amid uncertainty about its Russian business and declining golf gear sales. It also binned its 2015 sales and profit targets.

In Lisbon, Banco Espirito Santo (BKESY) shares plunged more than 40% as trading resumed after it reported a bigger-than-expected loss of €3.6 billion ($4.8 billion) and fired the starting gun on an emergency capital raising after a key measure of the bank’s financial strength fell below the regulatory minimum. Banco Espirito Santo said it might sell its international businesses.

In London, Balfour Beatty (BAFBF) shares tumbled more than 6% after it said short-lived merger talks with infrastructure services peer Carillion (CIOIF) had ended after its would-be partner asked Balfour to take a New York consultancy unit it’s trying to sell off the block. Carillion was down more than 3%.

Royal Dutch Shell (RDS.A) was up well over 3% in London after releasing second-quarter earnings figures that beat forecasts. Gas producer BG (BRGYY) and telecom BT (BT) also gained after releasing profit figures.

But investors across the continent didn’t always react positively to above-forecast performances. Leading U.K. consumer lender Lloyds Banking (LYG) was down more than 3% despite beating expectations in the first half as investors focused on £1.1 billlion ($1.9 billion) it is setting aside to cover yet more legal liabilities, notably compensation for consumers to whom it mis-sold payment protection insurance.

Engineering group and mining equipment maker Weir (WEIGF) also tumbled despite delivering a confident prognosis about the second half outlook as investors worried about the continuing impact of exchange rate fluctuations on its business. These movements eroded first-half earnings, pushing operating profit down 7% as revenue fell 5%, the Scottish company said.

In Paris, Carrefour (CRRFY) was also down after posting strong first-half figures.

But BNP Paribas (BNPQY) investors shrugged off a record €4.32 billion ($5.8 billion) quarterly loss because of the French bank’s mammoth $9 billion fine for breaking U.S. sanctions.

In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 fell 0.16% to 15,620.77. Games console maker Nintendo (NTDOY) closed down 6.5% after reporting a quarterly loss. In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng closed up 0.10% at 24,756.85.

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