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EUROPE MARKETS: Miners, Car Makers Drag European Stocks Lower On 2018's First Trading Day

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01/02/2018 | 11:01am CET

By Sara Sjolin, MarketWatch

BMW shares fall after a broker downgrade

European stocks kicked off the new year on a downbeat note on Tuesday, with car makers falling after a broker downgrade and mining companies taking a breather from a recent rally.

What are markets doing: The Stoxx Europe 600 index lost 0.3% to 387.87, setting it on track for a third straight session of losses.

The pan-European benchmark slipped 0.1% in Friday's session , the last of 2017. It still, however, ended the year 7.7% higher, scoring its best annual return since 2013, when it rallied 15%.

Germany's DAX 30 index dropped 0.8% to 12,820.36 on Tuesday, while France's CAC 40 index fell 0.5% to 5,285.09.

The U.K.'s FTSE 100 index fell 0.3% to 7,665.25 .

The euro rose to $1.2050 from $1.2006 late Monday in New York, largely due to a broad-based dollar selloff.

What's driving the markets: Mining companies posted some of the biggest losses on Tuesday, taking a breather from last week's rally. Those gains came after copper prices extended their winning streak into a 16th straight session. Copper for March slipped 0.3% to $3.29 a pound on Tuesday, but still traded close to a 2 1/2 year high.

The losses for miners came even after upbeat Chinese factory activity data out on Tuesday that showed the manufacturing sector's expansion in December was stronger than expected. The Caixin China manufacturing purchasing managers' index rose to 51.5 in December from 50.8 in November , beating forecasts of a 50.7 reading.

Car makers also helped lead the charge south, after Evercore downgraded BMW AG (>> Bayerische Motoren Werke) to in-line from outperform, according to Dow Jones Newswires.

Stock movers: Shares of BMW fell 2.6% after the downgrade. Elsewhere in the industry, Daimler AG (>> Daimler) dropped 1.6%, Renault SA (>> Renault) fell 2.4%, and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV (>> Fiat Chrysler Automobiles) gave up 2.8%.

Among miners, shares of Rio Tinto PLC (>> Rio Tinto plc) (>> Rio Tinto plc) (>> Rio Tinto plc) dropped 2.2%, Antofagasta PLC (>> Antofagasta) fell 1.9%, and BHP Billiton PLC (>> BHP Billiton Plc) (>> BHP Billiton Limited) (>> BHP Billiton Limited) lost 1.8%.

Steinhoff International Holdings NV jumped 11% even after the embattled retailer said its accounting problems may go further back than 2016. Steinhoff shares tumbled 91% in 2017 after an accounting scandal was disclosed in December and the company said it'll have to restate its financial statements for the recent years.

International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (>> International Consolidated Airlines Group) (>> International Consolidated Airlines Group) added 1.4%. The British Airways parent said late Friday it is buying the assets of Austrian carrier Niki, an arm of defunct Air Berlin.

Economic news: The final eurozone manufacturing PMI for December was confirmed at 60.6 (https://www.markiteconomics.com/Survey/PressRelease.mvc/b0cb3d5a14ab402489ae2c34385ac69e), up from 60.1 in November. A reading above 50 signals expansion.

Meanwhile in the U.K., the December manufacturing PMI fell to 56.3 (https://www.markiteconomics.com/Survey/PressRelease.mvc/c6d5055ead4b4fd9a1e8f0a6dd95923f) from November's 51-month high at 58.2.

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