European Shares Slip as Investors Mull Trump Intelligence Sharing

By Mike Bird Features Dow Jones Newswires

European stocks fell Tuesday ahead of the market open in New York, despite fresh record highs for U.S. equities overnight.

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The Stoxx Europe 600 index fell 0.1%, led by a 0.3% drop in France's CAC-40 index.

Reports that U.S. President Donald Trump shared intelligence secrets obtained from a close U.S. ally with Russia's foreign minister and ambassador last week could have knock-on effects for stocks, according to some analysts.

U.S. stock futures were slightly higher, with the S&P 500 pointing up 0.1% and Dow Jones Industrial Average up 0.2%.

"In terms of potential implications for the markets, finding support in Congress for fiscal measures may prove even more difficult for President Trump if the latest reports undermine his relationship with the Republicans," said Piotr Matys, foreign-exchange strategist at Rabobank.

Investors have been watching Mr. Trump's legislative progress closely, less for its content, and more as a measure of how successful he is likely to be in passing broad tax reforms. In a plan proposed in April, Mr. Trump called for a 15% tax rate for all businesses.

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"Without tax reform the market looks expensive. With it, the market perhaps isn't as expensive as it looks," said Andrew Acheson, portfolio manager at Pioneer Investments. "I think it is potentially vulnerable to disappointment or delay."

In foreign-exchange markets, the euro again broke through the $1.10 mark, up 0.7%, taking the currency to seven-month highs. The broad WSJ Dollar Index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of international currencies, was down 0.3%.

U.K. inflation figures for April came in higher than expected at 2.7%, the highest reading since 2013. Analysts had expected consumer prices to have risen 2.6%.

Sterling rose to as high as $1.295 immediately after the figures were released, up 0.4% against the dollar, but the move was short-lived, with the pound falling back to $1.288, down 0.1%.

"For now and the remainder of 2017, it is likely the consumer will be squeezed further and with the potential for growth to slow further," said Ed Hutchings, U.K. sovereign fund manager at Aviva Investors.

Eurozone GDP growth came in at 0.5% in the first quarter of the year, in line with what analysts had forecast, and unchanged from the reading in the fourth quarter of 2016.

Government bond yields were little changed in the eurozone, with 10-year German bund yields rising to 0.431%, after closing at 0.395% Monday.

In Asia-Pacific markets, Chinese stocks ticked higher, with the Shenzhen A Share index up 2.1%. Korea's KOSPI index ended up 0.2%.

Japan's Nikkei 225 index rose 0.25%, but closed just shy of the 20,000 mark, which it last reached in 2015.

A boost from commodity-exposed stocks lifted Australia's S&P/ASX 200 by 0.2%.

Oil prices ended Monday up about 2% after the world's biggest crude producers, Russia and Saudi Arabia, said they agreed that production cuts should be extended into March 2018. U.S. crude oil prices continued to rise Tuesday, climbing 0.4% to $49.05 a barrel.

Despite indications the production cap will be extended -- and expectations of increased second-half demand -- investors should remain cautious, said Stuart Ive, private client manager at OM Financial in New Zealand.

"OPEC meets on the May 25, so the market will want official confirmation of the deal rollover," Mr. Ive said.

Lucy Craymer contributed to this article

Write to Mike Bird at Mike.Bird@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

May 16, 2017 08:33 ET (12:33 GMT)