LONDON -- The market momentum provided by last week's announcement of a third stage of bond purchases by the U.S. Federal Reserve has faded at the start of the new week, with many concerned that the QE3 measures may bring about unwanted inflationary pressure. Worries in China surrounding weak economic growth prospects and soft corporate results set direction for the European open this morning, while some broader consolidation following Friday's rally is causing pause for breath.
In Europe, perceived safe havens are weathering the losses generally better than the higher-beta markets, with Germany's DAX (INDEX: ^GDAXI) down only 0.3%.
As always, the following price moves are based on this morning's European trading.
Royal Dutch Shell (NYSE:RDS-A) is seeing much of the headlines today following news that it has been forced to abandon plans to drill wells in the Arctic this year after a vital piece of safety equipment was damaged during testing. The company said it will still be able to start "top holes" in the Arctic seas but will not be able to be able to penetrate any oil-bearing rocks before the end of the summer drilling season. Shell's shares are currently down 1% in London.
Elsewhere, France Telecom (NYSE:ORAN) is down almost 2% in Paris after analysts at Morgan Stanley downgraded its stock outlook from "equal weight" to "underweight," suggesting that a significant earnings decline from its mobile-phone arm is yet to come. The company also announced today that its Jordan Telecommunications unit has appointed Jean-Francois Thomas as its new CEO, replacing Nayla Khawam, who will now move to Paris and be in charge of developing new business streams.
Meanwhile, mobile-phone giant Vodafone (NASDAQ:VOD) is suffering today, down more than 1% after its CEO said it will make a provision to cover a potential tax bill of $2.2 billion in India. The company was, until now, resistant to setting aside money for the tax bill after an amendment to the country's tax law made Vodafone potentially liable. This latest move now increases the chance that Vodafone will have to pay some, if not all, of the bill.
On a more positive note, Spanish plasma derivative company Grifols (NASDAQ:GRFS) is up 3% today on news that it will expand its North American business. The U.S. Grifols' subsidiary, Biomat USA, will purchase three plasma donation centers from Cangene, although the exact terms of the deal have not been made public.
As always, this morning's European news saw some winners and losers -- and perhaps some European buying opportunities. Indeed, legendary investor Warren Buffett has recently spent more than $1 billion buying the stock of a prominent European large cap.
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