Germany’s DAX stock index took a bruising as European equities fell to more-than-six-month lows after North Korea’s missile launch over Japan jangled investors nerves and the euro rose.
The Stoxx Europe 600 index SXXP, -1.04% dropped 1% to end at 368.42, its lowest close since mid-February, FactSet data showed.
France’s CAC 40 index PX1, -0.94% ended 0.9% lower at 5,031.92, after having fallen temporarily below 5,000 intraday. In London, the FTSE 100 UKX, -0.87% gave up 0.9% at 7,337.43, after being closed Monday for a bank holiday.
Missile impact: The selloff came after Pyongyang launched a missile early Tuesday local time that passed over the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido and landed in the Pacific Ocean. The first missile fired over the main part of Japan since 2009 prompted investors to seek relative safety in assets perceived as less risky.
“There seems to be a widespread consensus between financial markets today, with the losses evident across equity markets indicative of a wider shift out of risk in response to the latest North Korean missile,” said Joshua Mahony, market analyst at IG, in a note.
“Put simply, this standoff has the potential to start a nuclear war if not handled correctly, and given Trump’s no-nonsense approach, that risk is very real,” he added.
Top gainers on the Stoxx 600 were shares of Randgold Resources Ltd. RRS, +4.56% GOLD, +2.48% and Fresnillo PLC FRES, +2.59% with respective advances of 4.6% and 2.6%. The precious metals miners were tracking a jump in gold prices GCZ7, +0.55% to around an 11-month high above $1,300 an ounce.
“That [U.S. President] Donald Trump’s only comment so far in regards to North Korea has been that ‘all options are on the table’—a slightly less chest-beating response than perhaps could have been expected—may have gone some way to reassuring U.S. investors,” Spreadex financial analyst Connor Campbell wrote.
In the run to safety assets, the dollar fell to a one-month low against the Swiss franc USDCHF, -0.7746% The dollar also fell against the euro EURUSD, +0.3756% sending the shared currency above $1.20 for the first time since January 2015.
Harvey lingers: Investors are still grappling with the impact of Hurricane Harvey, which slammed into Texas over the weekend, knocking nearly 15% of U.S. oil refinery capacity out of commission. . The weather system, now downgraded to a tropical storm, is expected to drop up to 20 inches more rain in the already flooded Houston area.
The heavy flooding could hurt even more of the country’s energy infrastructure. Royal Dutch Shell PLC RDS.A, -0.25% RDSB, -0.87% said Monday its Deer Park refinery and chemical facility in the Houston area is having problems with a storage tank roof because of heavy rainfall.
London-listed Shell shares dropped 0.9% on Tuesday, contributing to a 0.8% fall in the Stoxx Europe 600 Oil & Gas Index SXEP, -0.82%
Meanwhile, shares of insurers fell as analysts began calculating the potential damage from Harvey. The Stoxx Europe 600 Insurance Index SXIP, -1.60% fell 1.6%. There, shares of Swiss Re AG SREN, -1.72% slumped 1.7%, and Lloyd’s of London insurers Hiscox Ltd. HSX, -2.33% and Beazley PLC BEZ, -2.79% declined 2.3% and 2.8%, respectively.
Insured losses, based on precedent, could come in between $4 billion and $12 billion, excluding personal home flood claims that will be absorbed by the U.S. government’s National Flood Insurance Program, Peel Hunt analyst Andreas van Embden wrote in a Tuesday research note.
Stock movers: ProSiebenSat.1 Media SE shares PSM, -14.56% sank 15% after the German media company reduced its revenue guidance for the third quarter in the German-speaking broadcasting segment, though it did confirm its full-year group targets.
Economic data: Consumer confidence in Germany is set to improve further in September, reaching its highest level in almost 16 years at 10.9 points, market research group GfK’s monthly survey showed on Tuesday.
French consumer spending rose 0.7% month-on-month and 2.1% year-over-year in July, compared with expectations for gains of 0.4% and 1% in a Wall Street Journal poll of economists. The rebound from a contraction in June came as households in the eurozone’s second-largest economy spent more on food and manufactured goods, statistics agency Insee said.
A second reading of French gross domestic product in the second quarter found a rise of 0.5% on the prior period, as expected.
U.K. house prices fell 0.1% on the month in August, following a modest increase the previous month, according to Nationwide figures released Tuesday.