European stocks edged lower on Tuesday, as the Stoxx 600 index headed for its best quarter since 2015.
Markets in Europe failed to follow the positive sentiment in Asia after China’s factory activity rose to a three-month high in June, beating expectations. U.S. stock futures YM00, -0.36% ES00, -0.23% NQ00, -0.00% were also lower heading into the final session of the quarter after Monday’s rally.
The pan-European Stoxx 600 index SXXP, -0.13% fluctuated in early trading before dipping 0.4%, while the German DAX DAX, +0.06% fell 0.2% and the French CAC PX1, -0.24% was 0.4% lower as investors weighed up coronavirus developments and signs of a recovery. “Once again Europe seemed slightly unsure of itself after the bell, pulled in different directions by continually alarming COVID-19 headlines and a broadly positive morning for data (if you look beyond the U.K.),” Spreadex analyst Connor Campbell said.
The Stoxx 600 has climbed 12.44% this quarter, as of Monday’s close, and is on course for its biggest quarterly percentage gain since March 2015. The majority of European countries have emerged from lockdown in the quarter, having largely brought the coronavirus under the control, while the €1.8 trillion EU Recovery Fund and hopes for a vaccine have also boosted stocks.
The U.K.’s FTSE 100 UKX, -0.64% slipped 0.8% on Tuesday, dragged down by oil stocks after Royal Dutch Shell RDSA, -2.88% said it would write down up to $22 billion in the second quarter after cutting oil price forecasts.
The U.K. economy also suffered its sharpest slump in more than 40 years as gross domestic product fell 2.2% between January and March. On top of that, the U.K. city of Leicester went into lockdown late on Monday after a localized outbreak. However, the FTSE 100 remains on track for its best quarter since 2010.
Stocks to watch
Royal Dutch Shell fell 2% in early trading after the oil major said it would write down up to $22 billion as it lowered its mid and long-term oil and price outlook. Rival BP BP, -2.46%, which announced earlier this month it would write down up to $17.5 billion also as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, fell 1.6% on Tuesday.
Wirecard WDI, +89.60% stock surged 127% despite the scandal-hit German payments company filing for insolvency last week. While some described it as a so-called dead-cat bounce — a temporary rally following a sharp decline — others attributed the rise to speculation that French group Worldline may try to buy parts of Wirecard.