Global Market Indices End Trading Sessions Down

Markets posted a down day in trading, reacting in part to uncertainty over how long the U.S. Central Bank planned to continue with its economic stimulus plan.

Global market indices lost ground Thursday, with trading sessions ending the day down.

Asian markets were all down. The Nikkei 225 in Tokyo was down 1.4 percent to 11,309.13, while the Hang Seng Index in Hong Kong fell 1.7 percent to 22,906.67.

The European markets followed, with the FTSE MIB in Milan leading the downturn.

The Italian market sank 3.1 percent to 16,009.55, while the CAC 40 in Paris fell 2.3 percent to 3,624.80 and the DAX in Frankfurt declined 1.9 percent to 7,583.57. The FTSE 100 in London retreated 1.6 percent to 6,291.54.

The day began on a downbeat note: Earlier on Thursday, the Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) data in the euro zone was lower than expected for the month of February. PMI is a monthly index of the manufacturing and service sectors, and a key indicator of a region’s economic health.

Retail and luxury stocks were mostly down, with the day’s biggest fallers including Ferragamo, which dropped 3.1 percent to 20.77 euros; Yoox, which was down 3 percent to 14.04 euros, and PPR, which fell 3.6 percent to 168.30 euros.

In the U.S., the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 0.3 percent to 13,880.62, while the S&P Retailing Industry Group fell 0.8 percent to 693.78.

Among the retailers that lost ground, Zale Corp. fell 8.7 percent to $3.99. The company earlier in the day reported second-quarter results in which net earnings for the three months ended Jan. 31 rose 42.9 percent to $41.2 million, or $1.02 a diluted share, on a 1.1 percent revenues gain to $670.8 million. However, while holiday profits were better than expected, the company said February same-store sales are down by a “midsingle-digit” percentage due in part to the East Coast blizzard at the start of the month and the impact of higher payroll taxes on consumers.

HSN Inc., which also posted earnings earlier in the day, fell 7.7 percent to $53.43. While the firm posted a higher fourth-quarter profit compared with a year ago, its earnings per share of $1 fell short of Wall Street’s consensus estimate of $1.01.

One retail stock that gained ground was J.C. Penney Co., Inc., rising 6.7 percent to $21.55. The company reports fourth-quarter results on Wednesday.