EUROPE MARKETS: European Stocks Head Toward 2nd-straight Loss As Euro Pushes Higher

By Carla Mozee, MarketWatch Features Dow Jones Newswires

Altice reportedly considers selling one of its units

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European stocks drove toward a second consecutive loss Thursday, with euro strength acting as a headwind and as investors assessed the worst selloff in Chinese equities in about three months.

New data arriving Thursday indicated a pickup in Germany economic activity.

How key gauges are moving: The Stoxx Europe 600 fell 0.4% to 385.63, with only the consumer goods sector printing a small gain. Utility and commodity stocks fell the most. On Wednesday, the benchmark fell 0.3% (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/ftse-100-on-course-for-3rd-straight-gain-with-uk-budget-on-deck-2017-11-22), snapping a two-day run of gains.

Volumes are expected to be lower as U.S. markets are closed for the Thanksgiving Day holiday.

In Frankfurt, the DAX 30 index shed 0.1% to 12,999.59 following Wednesday's slide of 1.2%. In Paris, the CAC 40 turned up 0.1% to 5,360.13.

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In London, the FTSE 100 index fell 0.5% to 7,385.63, and in Madrid, the IBEX 35 picked up 0.3% to 10,444.40.

The euro bought $1.1841, up from $1.1824 late Wednesday in New York.

What's driving markets: Equity investors stepped into the session with the euro kicked higher as the U.S. dollar was yanked to a four-week low on Wednesday. Those moves came as minutes released from the Federal Reserve's meeting earlier this month showed policy makers were concerned about persistently low inflation levels, and that cast doubt in the market about the pace of rate increases in 2018.

Euro strength can hurt shares of European exporters, as a stronger euro can make products from European companies more expensive to purchase for their overseas clients who use other currencies.

Minutes from the European Central Bank's meeting in October will be released at 12:30 p.m. London time, 7:30 a.m. Eastern Time.

The Stoxx Europe 600 Basic Resources Index was down 0.2%. Mining shares, which can be sensitive to developments in China, struggled in European trade in the wake of a rout in Chinese equities that left the Shanghai Composite and the Shenzhen Composite down 2.3% and 2.9%, respectively.

The selloff was sparked as Beijing took steps to halt the proliferation of small online lenders (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/chinese-stocks-fall-other-asian-markets-mostly-quiet-2017-11-22) after saying it plans to streamline oversight of asset-management products sold by financial institutions.

What strategists are saying: "European markets are trading lower despite the fact that the German GDP year-over-year number matched the forecast of 2.3%. The German export number, the backbone of the country, has endorsed once again that it is the primary driver of the GDP growth," said Naeem Aslam, chief market analyst, in a note.

Stock movers: Centrica PLC shares (CNA.LN) plunged 17% to the bottom of the Stoxx 600, after the parent company of British Gas warned that its energy supply businesses have had a disappointing second half (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/centrica-says-on-track-to-hit-2017-targets-2017-11-23). It also gave a full-year adjusted earnings outlook that was below the market consensus.

Altice NV shares (ATC.AE) jumped 5.9% following a Financial Times report that the French telecommunications company is seeking to sell its telecom network in the Dominican Republic.

Remy Cointreau SA (RCO.FR) fell 4% even as the company said first-half net profit rose to EUR89.2 million ($105 million) on stronger sales of its Remy Martin cognac (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/remy-cointreaus-earnings-lifted-by-cognac-sales-2017-11-23).

Economic data: German economy picked up speed in the third quarter, propelled by exports and corporate investments, the Destatis statistics agency said Thursday. Gross domestic product grew at a quarter-to-quarter rate of 0.8% (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/german-economy-picked-up-speed-in-3q-2017-11-23) in the three months through September, or 3.3% in annualized terms, confirming preliminary growth estimates.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

November 23, 2017 04:57 ET (09:57 GMT)