European stocks opened lower again Thursday as U.K. lawmakers signaled the country is still open to leaving the European Union without a deal in place, a move which is bound to unnerve investors.
The pan-European Stoxx 600 fell 2% after the bell, autos and bank stocks leading the losses.
U.S. President Donald Trump struck a slightly more positive tone on the U.S.-China trade war Wednesday but again threatened to increase tariffs on Chinese goods if no deal is agreed, deeming relations between the world’s two largest economies “testy” and doing little to assuage global trade fears.
In Asia, stocks mostly fell Thursday afternoon after a second straight day of declines on Wall Street. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index closed 1.73% lower amid violent clashes between protesters and riot police over a controversial extradition bill.
U.K. lawmakers on Wednesday rejected the main opposition Labour party’s bid to block a no-deal Brexit by seizing control of the parliamentary agenda from the government. Meanwhile, the favorite to succeed Prime Minister Theresa May, eurosceptic former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, launched his Conservative party leadership bid with a promise to take Britain out of the EU on October 31, with or without a deal.
Conservative Members of Parliament (MPs) will cast their first ballots for a new leader Thursday.
In mainland Europe, French President Emmanuel Macron announced plans to reduce unemployment benefits for high earners and offer incentives to those working beyond normal retirement age, two major components of a reform drive resulting from months of “yellow vest” protests.
In Switzerland, the Swiss National Bank (SNB) is set to release its financial stability report and monetary policy assessment Thursday, while a Eurogroup meeting of eurozone finance ministers takes place in Luxembourg.
In corporate news, Germany has raised 6.55 billion euros ($7.4 billion) in its auction of spectrum for 5G mobile services, the Federal Network Regulator (BNetzA) said after a contest lasting nearly three months that will see a fourth operator enter the market.