EUROPE MARKETS: European Stocks Head For 3rd Straight Loss As Irma Weighs On Insurers

By Carla Mozee, MarketWatch Features Dow Jones Newswires

North Korea tensions still keeping investors on edge, analyst says

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European stocks fell Wednesday, on track for their third loss in a row, with shares of insurance companies struggling as Category 5 Hurricane Irma barreled toward the U.S.

The Stoxx Europe 600 index declined 0.3% to 372.56, led by falls for industrial and financial shares. The tech sector was the only one posting a gain. On Tuesday , the broad index slipped 0.1% (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/european-stocks-push-higher-as-deal-news-eclipses-north-korea-worries-2017-09-05), losing grip of gains as concerns about North Korea's thermonuclear-bomb testing spooked investors.

"European equity markets are in the red again as the ongoing political uncertainty in relation to North Korea keeps traders on edge," wrote CMC Markets UK market analyst David Madden.

"Investors aren't running scared, but they are a touch on the nervous side, and while the situation keeps rumbling on, dealers could be reluctant to start a fresh round of buying," he said.

See:Here's a win-win solution for the U.S. and China on North Korea (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/heres-a-win-win-solution-for-the-us-and-china-on-north-korea-2017-09-04)

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Irma on the move: Shares of insurance firms were in focus as Hurricane Irma, described as a "potentially catastrophic" Category 5 storm in the Atlantic Ocean, made landfall in the Caribbean (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/potentially-catastrophic-hurricane-irma-makes-landfall-in-the-caribbean-2017-09-06). The storm front is seen heading toward the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and Florida, where a state of emergency has been declared (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/florida-declares-state-of-emergency-as-hurricane-irma-heads-for-region-2017-09-05).

The Stoxx Europe 600 Insurance Index sank 0.9%, as shares of Swiss insurer Zurich Insurance Group AG (ZURN.EB) dropped 1.1% and Swiss Re AG (SSREY) moved 1.4% lower. AXA SA (AXAHY) gave up 0.8%, and Munich Reinsurance (MUV2.XE) shed 0.7%.

ECB already in focus: Those events may still prove a dampener on markets on Thursday, when the European Central Bank is expected to release its latest monetary policy decision.

See:Here's how the ECB got 'stuck in the euro trap' on its way to winding down QE (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/heres-how-the-ecb-got-stuck-in-the-euro-trapon-its-way-to-winding-down-qe-2017-09-05)

On Wednesday, Deutsche Bank AG's (DBK.XE) Chief Executive John Cryan said the ECB should begin the process of winding down (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/deutsche-bank-ceo-urges-ecb-to-end-cheap-money-era-2017-09-06) its accommodative monetary policy, regardless of the strength of the euro.

The euro bought $1.1947, up from $1.915 late Tuesday in New York.

Stock movers: Micro Focus International PLC (MCRO.LN) rose 8.2% after the company issued financial results from its new software business, purchased from Hewlett Packard Enterprises (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/why-hewlett-packard-enterprise-stock-plunged-friday-2017-09-01).

Individual indexes: Germany's DAX 30 index was off 0.2% at 12,101.56, and France's CAC 40 index moved down 0.2% to 5,074.38.

In London (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/uk-stocks-swept-lower-as-home-builders-insurers-come-under-pressure-2017-09-06), the FTSE 100 fell 0.5% to 7,333.63.

Economic data:Orders in Germany's manufacturing sector unexpectedly dropped (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/german-manufacturing-orders-fall-unexpectedly-2017-09-06) in July, falling 0.7% on the month, compared with expectations for a 0.4% rise. But the country's economics ministry said the level of total orders has remained "very high".

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

September 06, 2017 05:36 ET (09:36 GMT)