LIVE MARKETS-Closing snapshot: A solid Monday saves the week

* Stoxx 600 is flat

* Selloff in Hong Kong exposed stocks Welcome to the home for real-time coverage of European equity markets brought to you by Reuters stocks reporters. You can share your thoughts Joice Alves ([email protected]) and Julien Ponthus ([email protected]) in London and Stefano Rebaudo ([email protected]) in Milan.

CLOSING SNAPSHOT: A SOLID MONDAY SAVES THE WEEK (1539 GMT)

Fears of Hong Kong protests and U.S.-China spat roiled European stocks markets at the open today but saw some relief later in the afternoon to end just about in black.

Trump’s rhetoric against China’s plan for a national security law in Hong Kong raised worries about a fresh trade war. HK-exposed stocks such as Prudential and HSBC closed sharply lower.

“Coming at a time when markets are looking for that next driver of market sentiment, the prospect of a new battleground for US-China relations isn’t ideal for stocks,” says Joshua Mahony, senior market analyst at IG.

Part of the relief in stocks this afternoon was driven by the European Central Bank’s April meeting minutes which showed it was “fully prepared” to provide even more stimulus as soon as June.

On a weekly basis, the pan-European STOXX 600 index closed 3.6% higher, all thanks to massive gains on Monday.

(Thyagaraju Adinarayan)

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TIME TO REALISE THAT EUROPEAN BANKS ARE UNDERVALUED? (1356 GMT)

European bank valuations have been the talk of the town with some analysts being cautious even as the sector has been fluctuating around all-time low for weeks, while some are turning more bullish.

Yesterday Morgan Stanley saw a source of interest in buying bank shares from a possible reduction of European Treasury yield spreads, triggered by a final deal on the EU recovery fund.

Now Credit Suisse argues that there are no good reasons to keep lender valuations at a 0.5 price-to-tangible-book-value ratio, well below the 2009 crisis.

A wide recapitalisation justifies these prices, but “the risk is low” after a delay in Basel 4 rules implementation, more ECB measures and a dividend freeze.

There will be a tumble in profitability but these valuations imply “around a 5% ROTE in perpetuity,” which “seems too bearish relative to the 9% delivered in 2019.”

Credit Suisse has a strong bias for asset gatherers, supported by “solid private banking transactions”, and its top picks are Baer, UBS and Credit Agricole .

Among others the best are BNP, RBS, Unicredit, it says.

(Stefano Rebaudo)

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UK’S GLOOMY ECON DATA: IT’S NOT JUST THE VIRUS (1020 GMT)

Expected but shocking, and it does not look good at all. April’s lockdown-induced 15.2% decline in UK retail sales is the worst monthly reading seen in the survey’s history, and means sales were below 2008/9 levels.

Besides, a measure of British public debt leapt to close to 100% of the country’s economic output in April, its highest in nearly 60 years.

It seems that for UK, getting off the hook could be slower and more difficult than for other European countries.

“The sharp fall in the value of the pound and a prolonged period of subdued consumer confidence following the 2016 referendum had hit demand over recent years,” an ING research note says.

Hopes of a potential V-shaped recovery are fading as the country is still searching how to exit the coronavirus lockdown. ING economist does not expect “the British economy to return to pre-crisis levels until 2022,” it adds.

Then we should not forget about Brexit, because talks with the European Union “do not seem to be going well.”

(Stefano Rebaudo)

THE IMMORAL HAZARD (0925 GMT)

No doubt, there has been a pullback of sorts recently in global equities but still we’re down just 11% for the year. All thanks to investors who are pumping-in money into healthcare and tech sector which make-up 43% of world stocks.

The clear disconnect can be seen with 2,215 out of 3,042 stocks remaining in bear markets, i.e. 20% drop from record highs.

BofA says positioning in markets are still bearish and policy makers are causing an “immoral hazard”, forcing investors to buy, banks to lend and corporate zombies to issue in 2020.

Noting prior bear market rallies in 1929, 1938, 1974 which saw an average 61% rebound from lows, BofA says a similar move would take S&P 500 to 3,180 points.

The exuberance so far has been based on 2021 corporate earnings bounce back, but BofA warns it may disappoint. After record stimulus policy makers are likely to demand payback via taxes, tariffs and regulation, while negative rates will put pressure on banks.

(Thyagaraju Adinarayan)

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OPENING SNAPSHOT: SELLOFF IN HK-EXPOSED STOCKS

Hong Kong exposed stocks are hit hard in a new European risk-off session, as worries grow about fresh protests in the former British colony as China signalled it would impose new national-security laws on the city.

HSBC Holdings is among the worst performers of the Stoxx 600, down 5%, Standard Chart loses 3.8%, Prudential slides 5%, all gripped by Hong Kong concerns.

China also refrained from setting a 2020 GDP growth target worrying investors about its economic outlook.

The pan European index Stoxx 600 is 1.5% lower, with insurers, oil and gas, automakers leading losses, down about 2%. Oil meanwhile is sharply selling off on rising U.S.-China tensions.

Renault shares are down 4%, after France’s Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said the company could disappear if it does not get help very soon to cope with the fallout from the coronavirus crisis.

(Stefano Rebaudo)

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ON THE RADAR: HK-EXPOSED STOCKS, AIRBUS, ROCHE, CARMAKERS (0645 GMT)

European equities are set for another risk-off session after a new spat between Washington and Beijing, and as worries grow about fresh protests in Hong Kong as China signaled it would impose new national-security laws on the city.

China’s move is seen stocks with high exposure to Hong Kong such as HSBC, StanChart , luxury sector taking a hit at the open.

On the corporate front Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways is planning to lay off 1,200 employees as it considers permanently grounding its Airbus A380s and never operating the A350s it has ordered, company and industry sources said.

Roche has acquired U.S.-based Stratos Genomics to further develop DNA-based sequencing for diagnostic use.

Lloyds Banking Group investors rebelled against the lender’s pay policy for top bosses, with more than a third of balloted shareholders rejecting its bonus plan.

Fiat Chrysler’s top executive said auto sales in Brazil have fallen between 70% and 75% so far in May due to the coronavirus crisis, compared to a year ago.

Burberry reported a 27% drop in comparable sales in the final quarter of its year, which ended with about 60% of its retail stores closed; it also pulled its final dividend and would review future payouts at the end of its 2021 financial year.

United Utilities Group posted an about 9% rise in full-year operating profit, but said it would review its dividend policy for the five-year pricing control period ending 2025.

On The Beach Group intends to raise equity worth about 20% of its share capital.

(Stefano Rebaudo)

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MORNING CALL: WORRIED ABOUT NEW U.S.-CHINA TENSIONS

European futures and their U.S. peers are in the red on resurgent U.S.-China tensions and concerns about the long-term economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Beijing, set to impose new national security legislation on Hong Kong, drew a warning from President Donald Trump that Washington would react “very strongly” against the attempt to gain more control over the former British colony.

China refrained from setting a 2020 GDP growth target but pledged to issue 1 trillion yuan ($140 billion) of special treasury bonds to support regions hit by the outbreak.

(Stefano Rebaudo)

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