The pan-European Stoxx 600 was around 0.1% lower during morning deals, with most sectors in negative territory and major bourses pointing in opposite directions. Autos stocks led the losses, falling around 1%.
Shares in Asia-Pacific were mostly lower on Tuesday, with Chinese internet stocks in Hong Kong falling again as regulatory fears resurfaced. Tencent, Alibaba and JD.com were all seen trading lower, shortly after China’s market regulator issued draft rules designed to prevent unfair competition on the internet.
On Wall Street, U.S. stock index futures were seen lower after the Dow and S&P 500 on Monday closed at record highs during regular trading.
Nonetheless, the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and spread of the highly transmissible delta Covid-19 variant has rattled confidence. Oil prices erased earlier gains on Tuesday amid persistent worries about the outlook for global fuel demand.
International benchmark Brent crude futures traded at $69.24 a barrel on Tuesday morning, down 0.4% for the session, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate futures stood at $66.97, around 0.5% lower.
Investors are also monitoring the potential geopolitical implications following the Taliban’s seizure of Kabul, the capital city of Afghanistan. U.S. President Joe Biden rejected blame for the scenes of turmoil and panic as thousands of people were seen at a Kabul airport desperately trying to flee.
Biden described the anguish of those trapped in the country as “gut-wrenching” and conceded the Taliban’s lightning offensive had occurred more quickly than expected. His comments came amid mounting criticism of his administration’s handling of the situation.
Back in Europe, U.K. jobs data showed the number of employees on British company payrolls rose month-on-month by 182,000 in July. The U.K.’s Office for National Statistics said the headline unemployment rate for the second quarter came in at 4.7%, slightly lower than economists polled by Reuters had anticipated.
The European statistics office on Tuesday said data showed the euro zone economy expanded 2% in the second quarter, reaffirming an earlier reading. Employment in the bloc rose 0.5% on a quarterly basis in the three months through June, Eurostat said. This was in line with forecasts of economists polled by Reuters.
Looking at individual stocks, the U.K.’s BHP Group said on Tuesday it would sell its petroleum assets to Woodside Petroleum in an all-stock deal, Reuters reported. The announcement comes as the mining company reported its best annual profit in nearly a decade. Shares of the London-listed firm rose to the top of the European benchmark on the news, up more than 6%.
Meanwhile, Dutch technology investor Prosus slipped toward the bottom of the index shortly after HSBC cut its target price for the stock. Shares of the company dipped 2%.