U.S. investors had the jitters on Tuesday, worried over third-quarter earnings reports and hoping for some clarity on the timing of a possible bailout request from Spain.
The day started in Asia with the key indices ending their trading sessions mixed. The Nikkei 225 in Tokyo was down 0.1 percent to 8,786.05, while the Hang Seng Index in Hong Kong was up 0.4 percent to 20,840.38.
European markets closed slightly down after a relatively flat day of trading, as investors awaited details on the timing of a possible Spanish bailout.
The CAC 40 in Paris fell by 0.6 percent to 3,414.24. The DAX in Frankfurt dropped by 0.3 percent to 7,305.86; the FTSE 100 in London and the FTSE MIB in Milan were both down 0.2 percent to 5,809.45 and to 15,495.79, respectively.
Overall, retail and luxury stocks made gains, with the day’s strongest performers including Compagnie Financière Richemont, which was up 2 percent to 58.65 Swiss francs, following an announcement earlier in the day that it had acquired the Swiss watch and components manufacturer VVSA. Other risers included Mulberry, up 2.4 percent to 12.30 pounds; ASOS, 2.8 percent to 22.40 pounds; Brunello Cucinelli, 1.8 percent to 13.80 euros; and Yoox, 1.8 percent to 10.18 euros.
Last week, Spain’s government said that debt levels would likely increase further in 2013, reaching 90.5 percent of the country’s gross domestic product. Spain is widely expected to ask for a bailout from the EU and the International Monetary Fund, following in the footsteps of Greece, Portugal and the Republic of Ireland.
Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy indicated that a request wasn’t imminent.
The skittishness of investors hit the U.S. equity markets mid-day, and ultimately resulted in the Dow Jones Industrial Average falling 0.2 percent to 13,482.36. The S&P Retail Index was down 0.4 percent to 653.92.
The retailer that lost most ground was Express Inc., which dropped 22.2 percent to $11.68, after the retailer lowered its third quarter profit forecast. Other retailers that posted declines were J.C. Penney Co. Inc., which lost 4.2 percent to $23.56, and Ann Inc., down 3.3 percent to $36.46.
Bon-Ton Stores Inc. was one of the few that bucked the trend and rose 7.5 percent to $11.12.