European markets close lower as recession fears persist; Just Eat down 17%

LONDON — European stocks closed lower on Wednesday as global market sentiment remained bearish, with investors nervous about a possible recession.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 provisionally closed down by 0.7%, with shares of autos firms shedding 2.7% to lead losses as almost all sectors and major bourses slid into the red. Health care stocks bucked the downward trend to add 0.7%.

Just Eat Takeaway shares plunged nearly 17% to an all-time low after the Wall Street Journal reported that the CEO of GrubHub had said a sale of the U.S. subsidiary was not imminent. Berenberg also initiated coverage of the Dutch food delivery company’s stock with a “sell” rating.

Toward the top of the index, Swedish retailer H&M gained 2.2% after beating profit expectations and flagging further price increases.

Global markets are under pressure, with aggressive monetary tightening from the Federal Reserve and other major central banks fueling fears of an impending economic downturn.

Stateside, the major averages were mixed, with U.S. markets on track for their worst first half of the year since 1970.

In other news, investors continue to watch for news out of the NATO summit in Spain on Wednesday as well as the European Central Bank’s forum in Sintra, Portugal.

There was momentous news from the NATO summit in Madrid on Tuesday as NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg announced that a deal had been reached to admit Sweden and Finland after objections from NATO member Turkey had been resolved.

At the Sintra meeting, Fed Chair Jerome Powell said there was a risk the U.S. central bank’s rate hikes may slow the economy too much — but added the bigger risk was letting inflation run rampant.

In economic data, Spanish inflation surpassed 10% in June for the first time since 1985, preliminary data showed on Wednesday. Annual inflation rose to 10.2%, up from 8.7% in May and above a 9% forecast from analysts polled by Reuters.

Euro zone government bond yields fell on Wednesday as the German state of North-Rhine Westphalia reported a surprise fall in inflation, raising the possibility that a less aggressive monetary tightening path may be necessary.