By Shreyashi Sanyal and Bansari Mayur Kamdar
(Reuters) – Tech led European shares lower on Wednesday following hawkish signals from Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell, while real estate stocks slid as the prospect of more interest rate rises stoked fresh concerns about mortgage costs after UK inflation failed to slow down in May.
The continent-wide STOXX 600 index closed 0.5% lower, extending declines to the third consecutive session.
Fed Chair Powell told lawmakers that the fight against inflation still “has a long way to go” and despite a recent pause in rate hikes officials were in agreement borrowing costs would likely still need to move higher.
Rate-sensitive tech stocks shed 1.6%.
In Britain, the consumer price index defied expectations of a slowdown and held at 8.7% in May. The data comes a day before the Bank of England’s policy meeting, where it is forecast to raise rates for a 13th time in a row.
“Given a string of upside surprises in the data showing stubbornly high inflationary pressures and surprisingly strong wage growth, we flag significant upside risk to our call, with the Bank potentially continuing the hiking cycle beyond the August meeting,” said Anna Titareva, an economist at UBS.
The reading also served as a stark reminder that the fight against inflation by major central banks is not over yet, with Germany’s two-year government bond yield, the most sensitive to rate expectations, briefly hitting its highest since March 10.
Euro zone inflation is stubborn and may require a protracted period of high interest rates to contain, partly due to an exceptionally tight labour market, warned the European Central Banks’ (ECB) two German policymakers on Wednesday.
Real estate stocks fell 1.6%, leading sectoral losses.
Shares of Kojamo slid 5.4% after Barclays double-downgraded the Finnish residential real estate company’s stock.
Shares of European post and logistics companies slid after U.S. rival FedEx reported lower quarterly profits on Tuesday.
Postal operators Deutsche Post and PostNL fell 2.6% and 1.7%, respectively.
The STOXX 600 index is on track for gains of 1.2% in June, losing some momentum from the first quarter of the year amid a high-interest rate environment, investor preference shifting away from value-oriented stocks and lacklustre China recovery.
A survey showed a slowdown in both the Chinese and global economies is the biggest issue affecting European firms in China, beating political tensions with the United States and decoupling.
(Reporting by Shreyashi Sanyal, Siddarth S and Bansari Mayur Kamdar in Bengaluru; Editing by Sohini Goswami and Eileen Soreng)