European stock markets eased Wednesday on continuing concerns about Japan's nuclear crisis and the military operation in Libya, as well as Portugal's vote on its austerity measures. Among individual stocks, British brands were specially damaged, with Burberry, Next, Ted Baker, ASOS and M&S noting losses between -0.16% and -0.72%. By contrast, shares in the world's largest fashion retailer, Inditex, gained 4.3% after it posted a 15% increase in fourth-quarter net profit.
After a strong start to the week, equities were struggling to hold their gains--Wall Street finished lower Tuesday and Asian markets lost ground Wednesday. In Europe, the benchmark Stoxx Europe 600 index was down 0.2% at 271.33 by 0910 GMT.
Among the national indexes, London's FTSE 100 index was 0.2% lower at 5749.30, Frankfurt's DAX index was 0.7% weaker at 6735.78, and Paris's CAC-40 index was down 0.2% to 3886.49.
Concerns about Japan's nuclear crisis shifted from the stability of the reactors to the impact of the radiation release into food and water, while events this week in Libya have made it increasingly unlikely that there will be a swift normalization of Libyan crude oil production in the near term, said Deutsche Bank. "Markets are increasingly bracing themselves for a lengthy disruption to Libyan crude oil exports that may last potentially many months if not more than a year," added Deutsche.
In Wall Street, stocks edged lower Tuesday, ending a three-day rally that had lifted the Dow Jones industrial average above 12,000 for the first time since an earthquake hit Japan more than a week ago.
US stocks followed Tuesday´s pattern on Wednesday. G-III Apparel Group became one of the market movers as soon as the American stocks markets opened, when it slipped 2.3% or 84 cents to $34.60 after the apparel retailer reported fourth quarter net sales increased 39.4% to $270.2 million from $193.8 million a prior year. Net income in the quarter soared to $12.3 million or 62 cents per diluted share compared to $9.0 million or 49 cents per share a year ago. For the full year revenues increased 32.8% to $1.06 billion from $0.80 billion a prior year. Net income surged to $56.7 million or $2.88 per diluted share compared to $31.7 million or $1.83 per diluted share a year ago.
As reported by Seeking Alpha, a statistic made available by Sogotrade shows that over 30 account holders have bought Abercrombie & Fitch shares or added to existing positions in the last three months and none have sold or reduced holdings. The loyalty differs slightly from insider activity, accounting for 10,000 shares purchased and almost 3,000,000 sold since 2008. Recently reported quarters have shown improvement, but 2010 sales were down 15% from 2009 and the trailing P/E is over 40.
Also Foot Locker is steadily beckoning investors. Despite declining sales, the sports footwear chain reached a profit in 2010 after failing to do so the year before. Nike recently announced that price increases are coming to offset rising materials costs, which spells disaster for a company operating at the tightest of margins with declining sales. The third in the athletic footwear battle, the German Puma, closed up on Wednesday, scratching 4.17% and entering the FU Top 100 Index top winners team.