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Europe’s major stock markets dipped on Monday in subdued trading on a public holiday in the United States.
London sentiment was knocked by news that British construction group Carillion has collapsed, which weighed in particular on share prices of its joint venture partner companies.
London’s FTSE 100 index of leading shares closed down 0.1 percent.
Wall Street is closed on Monday owing to a US public holiday.
‘It has been an uninspiring start to the week, with market volumes and volatility expected to be muted given the absence of US activity as the nation respects Martin Luther King day,’ said analyst Joshua Mahony at trading firm IG.
The euro meanwhile soared to a three-year peak at $1.2297 as Germany’s preliminary coalition deal calmed eurozone nerves.
‘With the euro at three year highs against the US dollar and with the potential to make further gains the DAX and CAC40 have come under some mild selling pressure on top of the small losses seen last week,’ said Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets UK.
The CAC 40 in Paris slid 0.1 percent while the DAX 30 in Frankfurt shed 0.3 percent.
Carillion collapses
Carillion announced its immediate liquidation on Monday after the heavily-indebted British contractor failed to secure a financial rescue from the UK government or banks in last-ditch talks.
The company’s share price, which tumbled 28.95 percent to 14.20 pence in reaction, was subsequently suspended by London’s Financial Conduct authority regulator.
Carillion, which employs 43,000 staff worldwide including 19,500 in Britain, said that the government would nevertheless provide some funding to allow current state projects to continue, following talks over the weekend.
‘Carillion’s collapse continued to dominate what would have otherwise been a very quiet start to the trading week,’ noted Spreadex analyst Connor Campbell.
‘Much of the morning has seen Carillion’s peers and partners let investors know whether or not they will be hurt by the company’s liquidation.’
Balfour Beatty, which has three joint venture construction schemes with Carilllion, saw its share price slide around three percent after warning over the impact of the collapse.
Asia’s blistering start
Asian traders continued their blistering start to the year on Monday with most markets rising but Hong Kong’s record rally came to an end.
Wall Street once again provided a strong lead on the back of optimism about corporate earnings in light of Donald Trump’s tax cuts as well as the improving global economic outlook.
Hong Kong started the day on a high – pushing on with a run of gains into the 15th day and heading for its all-time high – but profit-taking eventually caught up with it and the benchmark index closed down 0.2 percent.
The Hang Seng Index climbed more than seven percent in its run, supported by a surge in mainland investors attracted by relatively cheaper valuations compared with Shanghai and Shenzhen.
Key figures around 1635 GMT
London – FTSE 100: DOWN 0.1 percent at 7,769.14 points (close)
Frankfurt – DAX 30: DOWN 0.3 percent at 13,200.51 (close)
Paris – CAC 40: DOWN 0.1 percent at 5,509.69 (close)
EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.2 percent at 3,617.86
New York – DOW: Closed for public holiday
Tokyo – Nikkei 225: UP 0.3 percent at 23,714.88 (close)
Hong Kong – Hang Seng: DOWN 0.2 percent at 31,338.87 (close)
Shanghai – Composite: DOWN 0.5 percent at 3,140.49 (close)
Euro/dollar: UP at $1.2265 from $1.2195 at 2200 GMT Friday
Pound/dollar: UP at $1.3806 from $1.3731 
Dollar/yen: DOWN at 110.56 yen from 111.06 yen 
Oil – Brent North Sea: UP 11 cents at $69.98 per barrel
Oil – West Texas Intermediate: UP 19 cents at $64.49