EUROPE MARKETS: European Stocks Finish Lower After Merkel Says Euro 'too Weak'

By Carla Mozee and Sara Sjolin, MarketWatch Features Dow Jones Newswires

UCB shares slide on downbeat update

Continue Reading Below

European stocks ended a choppy session slightly lower, weighed by German stocks, as the euro rallied after comments about the shared currency by German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Speaking at an event with students in Berlin, Merkel blamed European Central Bank policies for making the euro "too weak" and said it has made German products cheaper. Those comments sent the euro to an intraday high of $1.1265 (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/pound-declines-after-shift-in-uk-election-polls-euro-climbs-2017-05-22), the highest level since November.

The stronger currency weighed on Germany's DAX 30 index , which is made up of companies that are heavily dependent on exports. The benchmark fell 0.2% to end at 12,619.46, led by a 1.3% loss for industrial heavyweight Siemens AG (SIE.XE) (SIE.XE).

More broadly in Europe, the Stoxx Europe 600 index ) fell 0.1% to 391.14.

The pan-European benchmark last week fell 1%--the first decline in four weeks. The decline was largely pegged to a rout in global equities that followed a report that U.S. President Donald Trump tried to stop (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/trump-asked-comey-to-drop-flynn-investigation-report-2017-05-16) a Federal Bureau of Investigation probe into links between his administration and Russian officials.

Continue Reading Below

"The political risk surrounding Donald Trump is beginning to subside," said Richard Perry, market analyst at Hantec Markets, in a note.

"It is interesting to see markets beginning to look more settled...as the agenda turns away from Trump's domestic woes and more towards international trade deals," he added.

Trump while in Saudi Arabia this weekend oversaw a signing ceremony for a $110 billion package of new arms deals. (Trump,%20Saudi%20Arabia,%20other%20Gulf%20states%20sign%20pacts%20worth%20$350%20billion%20meant%20to%20counterbalance%20Iran)

Last week's New York Times report fueled questions about the Trump administration's ability to push through tax cuts, higher fiscal spending and looser regulations. The prospect of an economic boost from the proposed changes had helped to push stocks world-wide to highs.

Read:Here's how impeachment works--and why Trump is safe for now (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/heres-how-impeachment-works---and-why-trump-is-safe-for-now-2017-05-17)

(http://www.marketwatch.com/story/heres-how-impeachment-works---and-why-trump-is-safe-for-now-2017-05-17)Also on the radar Monday was a meeting of eurozone finance ministers and the International Monetary Fund, and investors will watch whether they can agree to provide debt relief to Greece after the country agreed to new austerity measures (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/greek-parliament-approves-new-austerity-measures-2017-05-19). In Athens, the Athex Composite ended 0.6% higher at 788.53.

Individual indexes: France's CAC 40 ended marginally lower at 5,322.88, while the U.K.'s FTSE 100 rose 0.3% to 7,496.24 (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/miners-oil-shares-lead-the-ftse-100-higher-2017-05-22). Stocks in London got a boost from a weaker pound that dropped after a poll showed support for Theresa May's Conservative Party is falling ahead of the June 8 vote

Stock movers: Clariant AG shares (CLN.EB) jumped 3.5% after the Swiss chemicals company and Huntsman Corp. (HUN) reached an agreement to merge (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/huntsman-clariant-to-combine-into-20-bln-company-2017-05-22) in an all-stock deal that would create a company worth about $14 billion.

Aegon NV (AGN.AE) climbed 6.5% after the Dutch insurer said it would sell its two largest U.S. life businesses. (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/aegon-to-sell-2-runoff-businesses-to-wilton-re-2017-05-22)

UCB SA (UCB.BT) tumbled 18% the Brussels-based company said it doesn't expect U.S. approval of its romosozumab treatment for postmenopausal women with osteoporosis to occur in 2017. A "newly observed cardiovascular safety signal will have to be assessed," although a study of the treatment met primary and secondary endpoints, said UCB, which is working on romosozumab with Amgen Inc. (AMGN).

Royal Bank of Scotland Group PLC shares (RBS.LN) (RBS.LN) ended down 0.5% after the start of a High Court trial was adjourned by 24 hours after the lender reportedly doubled its settlement offer (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/rbs-doubles-settlement-offer-to-shareholders-ahead-of-high-court-battle-report-2017-05-22).

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

May 22, 2017 12:34 ET (16:34 GMT)