Europe midday: Utilities provide no refuge
European stocks markets are in decline for the eighth day in succession, with Germany suffering more than most.
The Frankfurt DAX is down 172 at 5,750, with utility company RWE leading the slide, as it cut full-year earnings guidance after falling into the red in the second quarter.
RWE said additional costs related to Germany's decision to stop using nuclear energy by 2022 and also the tax on nuclear fuel contributed to a net loss of €229m in the second quarter of 2011, versus net income of €486m the year before.
"Due to the earlier-than-expected exit from nuclear energy, the company has had to increase provisions for decommissioning and dismantling its power plants," the company said.
Sector peer EON declined in sympathy.
Elsewhere in Frankfurt, car makers BMW and Volkswagen - both of which headed a long way down the hill yesterday - are climbing slowly today, and are the only DAX constituents in positive territory.
Traders' screens in Paris are far more likely to be displaying blue numbers than those of their counterparts in Frankfurt, though the overall trend is still lower, with the CAC down 33 at 3,091.
Utility stocks such as EDF and Suez Environnement, normally thought of as relatively safe refuges in a bear market, are sharply lower, as is France Telecom, another stock normally associated with risk-averse investors.
Oil company Total tumbled in line with oil prices; Brent crude dropped by more than $5 in the early hours to $98.74 a barrel, representing a 22% fall from the $127 peak in April, though it edged back above the $100 mark later on.
Meanwhile, WTI crude (West Texas Intermediate crude) was down a dollar at $80.34 around midday, recovering somewhat after hitting an 11-month low of $75.71 earlier on.
The price of gold continues to charge to new highs. The most actively traded gold futures contract is up $54 or so on the day, as investors seek somewhere ostensibly safe for their investment funds.
The news has not been helpful on the economic front either, with German exports sliding 1.2% in June from May's level. Economists had forecast a decline of 1.0%.
Meanwhile, Chinese inflation is racing away, rising at its quickest pace in three years in July. The annual consumer prices inflation rate jumped to 6.5%, slightly above the 6.4% expected by economists, as food costs soared.
CAC 40 - Risers
Alcatel-Lucent (ALU) € 2.36 +6.16%
Schneider Electric (SU) € 88.40 +3.66%
Michelin (ML) € 48.54 +3.40%
Vallourec (VK) € 59.80 +3.23%
Peugeot (UG) € 21.00 +3.09%
Natixis SA (KN) € 2.97 +2.76%
Saint Gobain (SGO) € 33.51 +2.71%
Vinci (DG) € 33.97 +2.30%
Cap Gemini (CAP) € 27.33 +1.88%
Publicis Groupe Sa (PUB) € 31.73 +1.72%
CAC 40 - Fallers
EDF (EDF) € 20.94 -5.01%
France Telecom (FTE) € 12.79 -3.11%
Sanofi (SAN) € 46.33 -2.98%
Pernod Ricard (RI) € 58.62 -2.67%
Suez Environnement Company (SEV) € 11.68 -2.26%
Essilor International (EI) € 48.63 -2.07%
Total (FP) € 32.66 -1.91%
GDF Suez (GSZ) € 19.53 -1.46%
AXA (CS) € 10.84 -1.36%
L'Oreal (OR) € 74.02 -1.36%