It may be the biggest week of earnings season, but Europe is taking center stage even across the Atlantic this morning. The Dow Jones Industrials (INDEX: ^DJI ) are off more than 150 points in early trading, but European markets are getting slammed a lot harder. Worries about slowing Chinese manufacturing and the potential impact on the overall global economy are playing a role, but some Europe-specific problems related to the ongoing sovereign debt crisis are also taking their toll -- and while they definitely have an impact on U.S. markets, the impact on European stocks is thus far more severe.
France had elections over the weekend, with incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy and Socialist challenger Francois Hollande moving on to a runoff election early next month. That result didn't support the CAC 40 (INDEX: ^FCHI ) , which was down almost 3%. Many analysts fear that France isn't doing enough to join the movement toward austerity in Europe, and with the country already having lost its AAA bond rating, it's even possible that it could eventually join Spain in facing higher bond yields if investors start to lose confidence in France's political and fiscal will.
In the U.K., the FTSE 100 (INDEX: ^FTSE ) is down more than 2%. With natural-resources stocks like BP and Rio Tinto having a big impact on the overall index, China's potential slowdown could take away one of the key underpinnings of the bull market. In addition, the nation's banking and financial giants, including Lloyds and HSBC, fell along with many of their continental peers.
Germany is seeing the biggest declines among major European markets, with the DAX (INDEX: ^GDAXI ) down more than 3.5%. Daimler saw big losses as fears of a continentwide slowdown hit the automaker. Germany relies on exports, so news of slowing growth in China and its potential impact on the overall global economy aren't what Europe's most solid economy needs to hear right now.
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