March 21, 2019 / 11:14 AM / a month ago

RPT-UPDATE 1-No Fed boost for European stocks as banks fall, but chipmakers shine

(Repeats to add link to USB stock)

* Bank stocks fall across Europe

* Chipmakers rise on Micron’s upbeat outlook for the sector

* Dublin stocks fall on Brexit worries

By Agamoni Ghosh

March 21 (Reuters) - European stock markets fell on Thursday as fears over economic growth and the impact on banks of an accommodative policy message from the U.S. Federal Reserve outweighed any broader lift from its abandoning of further interest rate hikes this year.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index dipped 0.1 percent, driven by falls in Dublin, Madrid and Frankfurt that contrasted with a strong reaction on Asian markets to the Fed’s statement and news conference.

The banking sector, which tends to suffer when expectations for future interest rates fall, dropped about 1 percent, led by Deutsche Bank.

A warning about falling investment banking revenues from UBS played into that decline for a sector that had risen earlier in the week on signs of a merger between Deutsche and Commerzbank.

“The dovish update from the Federal Reserve last night combined with the reduced growth outlook has put pressure on eurozone stocks,” David Madden, a strategist with CMC Markets in London.

“The downward revision echoes the lowered growth forecast from the European Central Bank that was issued earlier this month.”

Reflecting broader economic concerns, the travel and leisure sector also took a hit with resort-owner Merlin falling about 6 percent after Berenberg downgraded the stock to “sell”.

EssilorLuxottica’s shares slumped towards the bottom of the STOXX on new tensions in its boardroom as the top shareholder and executive chairman accused the Franco-Italian group’s executive vice chairman of a power grab.

Investors punished HeidelbergCement, the world’s second-largest cement maker, after its results and Swedish construction group Skanska fell 2 percent after it said it would not reach a target for operating margins.

PRIMING

That all contrasted to gains in Asia overnight, where chipmakers were boosted by U.S.-based Micron Technology’s upbeat outlook for the sector. Infineon and STMicro both rose by more than 1 percent.

Some analysts stressed the longer-run hope offered to markets by both the Fed and the ECB’s move to halt or even turn around monetary tightening.

London’s FTSE benefited from gains for mining and oil stocks, with a weaker pound also helping many of the blue chip index’s internationally focussed companies. Italian shares rose 0.4 percent.

“By turning as dovish as it has, the Fed perhaps creates better conditions for equities to perform well, for business sentiment to do better and that may come through in the euro area,” said John Davies, G10 rates strategist at Standard Chartered Bank in London.

“Against this backdrop there’s also Brexit, which is reaching its most nervous moment, and we still have to see what the China/U.S. trade talks will result in.”

EU leaders will tell Theresa May on Thursday if she can have two more months to organise an orderly Brexit but the U.K. could face a hugely disruptive ejection from the bloc next Friday if the prime minister fails to win backing from parliament. (Reporting by Agamoni Ghosh and Patrick Graham; Additional reporting by Dhara Ranasinghe; editing by Josephine Mason and Jon Boyle)

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