EUROPE MARKETS: European Stocks End Lower, As Drop For Travel Stocks Offsets Energy Sector's Rise

By Carla Mozee and Victor Reklaitis, MarketWatch Features Dow Jones Newswires

Crude rally helps lift oil and gas stocks

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European stocks lost ground Wednesday, led lower by drops for Altice NV, Schibsted ASA and Barratt Developments PLC.

Stocks in the travel sector also came under pressure after Thomas Cook Group PLC flagged a price battle in the Spanish market, though the energy sector found support thanks to rising oil prices.

How key gauges fared: The Stoxx Europe 600 fell 0.3% to end at 387.06, erasing part of Tuesday's rise of 0.4% (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/european-stocks-look-for-2nd-straight-win-despite-choppy-trade-2017-11-21) that put it at its highest since Nov. 10.

In Frankfurt, the DAX 30 index lost 1.2% to close at 13,015.04, and in Paris, the CAC 40 shed 0.3% to end at 5,352.76.

On the upside, the FTSE 100 index rose 0.1% to finish at 7,419.02, though British home building stocks were knocked lower after the U.K. finance minister presented the Autumn Budget.

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The euro bought $1.1789, up from $1.1738 late Tuesday in New York.

What drove markets: In the U.K., housing stocks like Barratt were hit after the government's Autumn Budget was presented by Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond. He said the government--which has been trying to boost the available amount of affordable homes--will launch an urgent review of so-called land banking, which could result in land purchased by property companies being reclaimed by the government if development on it has been slow.

"Given Britain's housing crisis was an obvious target for the chancellor, he really needed something substantial to make his aim of 300,000 new homes built every year anything more than a pipe dream," said Lee Wild, head of equity strategy at Interactive Investor, in a note.

"A threat to use compulsory purchase powers where builders are believed to be holding land for commercial reasons, could cause sleepless nights," he said.

Barratt (BDEV.LN) finished down 3.7% for one of the Stoxx Europe 600's biggest losses.

Energy stocks were bolstered by a rise in crude prices , with the Stoxx Europe 600 Oil & Gas up 0.4%.

Oil prices were up but off the session's best levels (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/us-crude-prices-surge-on-optimism-over-shrinking-supply-2017-11-22) after U.S. government data revealed that weekly domestic crude supplies fell a bit less than the market expected.

Travel stocks: Thomas Cook shares (TCG.LN) tumbled 8.4% after the travel services company said in its full-year 2017 earnings report (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/thomas-cook-margins-take-a-hit-shares-fall-2017-11-22) that gross margin was reduced in part because of a competitive market in Spain. The company's fiscal pretax profit rose to GBP46 million.

"Demand for our holidays to Turkey and Egypt is very strong, which we expect will start to alleviate the margin pressures caused by the high concentration of holidays to Spain in 2016 and 2017," said Thomas Cook in its report.

The Stoxx Europe 600 Travel & Leisure Index was down 0.8%, hurt by Thomas Cook's warning. Shares of rival travel services company TUI AG closed down 0.5%.

Other movers: Altice NV (ATC.AE) fell 8.8% for the Stoxx Europe 600's biggest loss. The French telecom's stock has been in a tailspin this month, and the company tried to reassure jittery investors by promising Monday to pare its mountain of debt (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/altice-to-sell-non-core-assets-to-pare-debt-2017-11-20) by selling noncore assets rather than by issuing new equity.

Schibsted ASA shares (SCHA.OS) dropped 6.7% after the Norway-based media company said it has completed the placement of 11.88 million new B-shares, equal to 2.5% of existing total share capital. Gross proceeds came in at 2.51 million Norwegian kroner ($305 million).

Akzo Nobel NV (AKZOY) shares were up 1.3% after the Dutch paint company and its U.S. rival Axalta Coating Systems Ltd. (AXTA) said they've abandoned talks to merge. (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/akzo-nobel-in-merger-talks-with-uss-axalta-2017-10-28)

Energy stocks: In the oil and gas group, Tullow Oil PLC (TLW.LN) climbed 4.6%, while Total SA (TOT) and Repsol SA (REPYY) each rose 0.7%. A Repsol-led consortium plans to invest $900 million for exploration and production in southern Bolivia (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/repsol-led-group-to-invest-900m-in-bolivia-efe-2017-11-22).

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

November 22, 2017 12:33 ET (17:33 GMT)