By Julien Ponthus and Helen Reid
LONDON (Reuters) – European shares are running out of steam and are expected to end 2019 roughly at their current level, a Reuters poll showed, as continuous political risks and slowing growth keep a tight lid on their upward potential.
Europe’s main indexes are up about 10 percent so far this year, having kept pace with a rebound which has lifted global markets since the start of January.
According to the survey of over 30 brokers, fund managers and analysts taken Feb. 12-25, the pan-European benchmark index is seen ending the year at 371 points, which was almost the level it closed at on Tuesday.
The latest forecasts are in line with a previous November poll, which forecast the STOXX 600 climbing to 373 points by end-2019.
Expectations were less optimistic for the euro zone blue-chip index which was seen losing about 40 points and closing 2019 at 3,250 points. Germany’s was expected to retreat about 120 points to 11,420 points.
Much of the rationale behind cautious expectations for European stocks is tepid growth after investment banks and international institutions cut their 2019 forecasts for the region.
The continent’s economic powerhouse, Germany, is on the verge of a recession and should only grow 1.1 percent this year according to the European Commission.
Fading growth has cast a shadow on hopes the European Central Bank could start raising interest rates and resurgent corporate profits could kickstart stock markets.
At the moment, European companies listed on the STOXX 600 are expected to report 2.6 percent year-on-year earnings growth for the fourth quarter of 2018, according to I/B/E/S Refinitiv.
This contrasts sharply with the optimism of last autumn when profit growth expectations for Q4 were as high as 13 percent in early November.
“After a couple of years of rare economic momentum and relative political calm, domestic Europe has reverted towards its norm of underwhelming nominal growth and political uncertainty,” said Giles Rothbarth, portfolio manager in BlackRock’s European equity team.
While other investors argue a U.S.-China trade deal could lift European markets, others fear Europe could be the fall guy in any breakthrough which would allow Donald Trump to turn his attention to German cars and French luxury wines.
(Graphic: xcv link: https://tmsnrt.rs/2BXAFk5).
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