European stocks were lower Tuesday morning, as market participants anxiously waited for details from the latest round of U.S.-China trade talks.
The pan-European Stoxx 600 was down around 0.4 percent during mid-morning deals, with most sectors and major bourses in negative territory.
Europe’s banking index led the losses shortly after the opening bell, down 1.5 percent amid earnings news. HSBC was the worst sectoral performer, after reporting disappointing annual profit figures on Tuesday. Europe’s largest bank also warned an economic slowdown in China, as well as Brexit uncertainty, would most likely throw up further hurdles in 2019. Shares of the London-listed stock fell 4 percent during morning trade.
Looking at individual stocks, Denmark’s William Demant slumped to the bottom of the European benchmark. It comes after the hearing aid maker said organic sales growth this year would be weaker than market expectations. Shares of the company tumbled nearly 7 percent news.
Meanwhile, Germany’s HeidelbergCement surged toward the top of index amid earnings news. The group shrugged off concerns about trade wars and a potentially disorderly Brexit to forecast higher demand for cement this year. Shares of the firm rose over 3 percent.
Elsewhere, Japan’s Honda confirmed the closure of its Swindon car plant on Tuesday, risking the loss of 3,500 jobs. The carmaker said the decision came as part of a broad restructuring plan and was not related to Brexit.
British government officials have expressed their disappointment over Honda’s decision to close its only plant in the U.K.
Market focus is largely attuned to trade developments between the world’s two largest economies, with a new round of negotiations expected in Washington on Tuesday.
A follow-up session of higher-level talks is expected later in the week, as both sides look to resolve their protracted dispute before a March 1 deadline.
Last week, President Donald Trump suggested he might extend the deadline for a deal, which would stop an immediate increase in tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports to 25 percent from 10 percent.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares, excluding Japan, edged down 0.1 percent.