By Carla Mozee, MarketWatch
Ahold Delhaize shares rise after financial results
European stocks slumped on Thursday as German shares extended losses after a key survey showed an unexpected drop in business sentiment in the country.
The Stoxx Europe 600 shed 0.8% to close at 342.02, logging its first losing session in four. The health care group was putting in the worst sector performance.
The pan-European index extended its losses as a selloff in German equities accelerated after the release of the Ifo index for August. The closely watched survey of the business climate in Europe's largest economy came in at 106.2 , compared with 108.3 in July. Economists polled by The Wall Street Journal had expected a print of 108.5.
Germany's DAX 30 fell by as much as 1.4% after the report, but since pared the loss to 0.9% at 10,529.59.
"What we had feared could happen did unfortunately happen: German businesses continued a longer tradition of delayed reactions to single and unexpected events," said Carsten Brzeski, chief economist at ING, referring to the U.K. Brexit vote in June to leave the European Union.
"All in all, today's Ifo reading is a good reminder that the relative benign reaction of eurozone data to the Brexit vote should not be taken as given. The negative confidence impact is for real," he added in his note.
All but two of the DAX's components were in the red. Decliners included airline Deutsche Lufthansa AG (>> Deutsche Lufthansa AG) as it lost 2.8%, and car makers Volkswagen AG (>> Volkswagen AG) (>> Volkswagen AG) and Daimler AG (>> Daimler AG) were off 1.8% and 1.5%, respectively.
The euro was at $1.1273, edging up after the Ifo report. It bought $1.1264 late Wednesday. Read more in Currencies .
Pharma pain: Drug stocks were hit Thursday, with Hikma Pharmaceuticals PLC (>> Hikma Pharmaceuticals Plc) and Qiagen (>> Qiagen NV) (>> Qiagen NV) down 3.5% and 2.4%, respectively. AstraZeneca (>> AstraZeneca plc) (>> AstraZeneca plc) lost 1.4%.
Drug pricing in the U.S. was in focus as a backlash has grown against Mylan NV's (>> Mylan NV) decision to substantially raise the price of its EpiPen emergency allergy treatment. Mylan said Thursday it would expand programs that will lower the price of the injection pens.
Comments on Wednesday "from Hillary Clinton last night suggested that the (U.S. Democratic presidential) candidate would look to put pressure on drug makers to cut prices," said Chris Beauchamp, chief market analyst at IG, wrote in a note Thursday.
Read:How Hillary Clinton crushed another rally in biotech
"This fall has combined with an ongoing rise in sterling that has taken some of the shine off the dividend stocks that were so much in demand after Brexit," he added.
Movers: Royal Ahold Delhaize NV (>> Ahold Delhaize) shares rose 0.6% after the newly merged supermarket operator posted a 7% rise in underlying operating profit , on a 3% rise in sales.
Just Eat PLC (>> Just Eat PLC) shares fell 4.1% following a ratings downgrade at Barclays to equalweight from overweight.
Indexes: France's CAC 40 fell 0.7% to 4,406.61, and the U.K's FTSE 100 gave up 0.3% to 6,816.90 .
Italy's FTSE MIB fell 1.1% to 16,710.78, while Spain's IBEX 30 shed 0.7% to 8,599.50.
Portugal's PSI 20 moved 0.5% lower to 4,677.34. The European Union and Portugal on Wednesday reached an initial agreement to inject up to EUR2.7 billion ($3.05 billion) into state-owned Caixa Geral de Depositos SA, Portugal's largest lender by assets.
Read:Why Portugal could be Europe's next economic disaster