Europe’s major stock markets fell in initial trading Thursday after losses elsewhere, as voting kicked off in European Parliament elections.
Investor sentiment remains dogged by frictions over the festering China-US trade war, dealers said.
In opening deals, London’s benchmark FTSE 100 index of leading blue-chip companies was down 0.5 percent at 7,297.67 points.
In the eurozone, Frankfurt’s DAX 30 slid almost 0.9 percent to 12,064.29 points, while the Paris CAC 40 sank 0.8 percent to 5,335.12 compared with Wednesday’s closing levels.
“The European Parliament elections take center-stage and the question is whether the populist, anti-EU sentiment will be the key takeaway from this event,” said Konstantinos Anthis, head of research at trading firm ADSS.
On Thursday Britain and the Netherlands kicked off four days of voting across the continent in a contest in which rising populist forces are hoping to make significant gains, threatening closer EU integration.
“Gains for the populist and eurosceptic parties could set the cat among the pigeons in Brussels,” cautioned Markets.com analyst Neil Wilson.
Asian equities meanwhile tumbled Thursday, after losses on Wall Street, on the back of the raging trade war between the world’s two biggest economies.
“Risks to the downside are building and equity markets probably need to reprise to reflect the heightened risks from the deterioration in trade,” added Wilson.
“The problem we have is that the market is at the mercy of lots of trade-related news flow and tweets from the U.S. president that can quickly leave one offside.”
Tensions between China and the U.S. have increased after President Donald Trump banned Chinese telecoms giant Huawei from the U.S. market and prevented American firms from selling to it.
The move has led a number of companies around the world to cut back their business with the firm, including Google, Japan’s Panasonic and BT in Britain, among others.