European equities sank yesterday on fears over debt-riddled Spain after its central bank predicted a worsening recession, and on continued US corporate earnings disappointment.
London’s FTSE 100 index of top companies closed 1.44% lower at 5,797.91 points, hit by fresh gloom in the retail sector, following a profits warning from luxury handbag maker Mulberry.
In Frankfurt, the DAX 30 lost 2.11% to 7,173.69 points, while in Paris the CAC 40 fell by 2.2% to 3,406.5 points.
Madrid’s IBEX 35 index of top shares dived 1.64% to 7,747.7 points, with Spanish bond yields creeping above 5.6% as bailout concerns intensified.
In foreign exchange trading, the European single currency weakened to $1.2971 from $1.306 late in New York on Monday. Gold prices slid to $1,711 ounce on the London Bullion Market from $1,726.75.
“Risk-off today, with financial markets across the region under pressure and Spanish 10-year bond yields back on the rise after some worrying noises surrounding Spain and the continued deluge of poor earnings releases from both sides of the Atlantic,” Ishaq Siddiqi of ETX Capital.
US stocks also slumped more than one percent yesterday after blue chips Dupont, United Technologies and 3M turned in disappointing quarterly earnings and cut their forecasts. In midday trade the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 1.84%, the broad-based S&P 500 sank 1.43%, while the Nasdaq Composite lost 1.02%.
In Europe, the Bank of Spain forecast that a job-destroying recession kept a tight grip on the nation’s economy in the third quarter of 2012 when output shrank by an estimated 0.4%.
If confirmed, the figures would mean that the Spanish recession, which has left one in four workers unemployed, is moving into a second year at a relentless pace.
The news came as Moody’s cut its debt rating for five Spanish regions by one or two notches each, blaming their weak financial positions and looming debt redemptions.
“Stocks are in the red across Europe... after rating agency Moody’s downgraded five Spanish regions,” said market analyst David Madden at trading group IG.
In London, the top-end consumer goods sector was in focus after Mulberry warned that annual profits would be lower than last year, due to falling wholesale revenues and international retail sales.
In reaction, Mulberry shares slumped to 1,006 pence, down 23.8% from Monday’s closing level.
Rival luxury goods firm Burberry saw its share price tumble 3.24% to 1,134 pence. Earlier this month, Burberry said group sales growth slowed during its second quarter.
Shares in British arms maker BAE Systems lost 2.43% to 305.7 pence after leading shareholders in said that they had called on the company’s chairman to resign following the collapse of a mega-merger with European aerospace group Eads.