Concerns about falling crude oil prices, Greek political stability and the euro’s weakness combined to send stocks to steep declines in the U.S. and overseas.
While the WWD Global Stock Tracker pulled back 0.7 percent to 106.76 for its fourth decline in as many trading sessions dating back to Dec. 30, the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 331.34 points, or 1.9 percent, to land at 17,501.65, and the S&P 500 eroded 37.62 points, or 1.8 percent, to 2,020.58. The retail components of the S&P dropped a bit more, easing 19.33 points to 1,006.44. The S&P 500 Retailing Industry Group has closed above 1,000 every day since Dec. 18.
While natural gas prices got a boost on expectations of cold weather in the U.S. over the next few weeks, crude oil continued its decline, falling to $50.38 a barrel, its lowest price since the recession. At under $1.20, the euro was at its weakest point against the dollar in nine years and concerns about Greece’s finances and their effect on the nation’s politics weighed heavily.
Frankfurt’s DAX ended down 3 percent at 9,473.16 and the CAC 40 in Paris slid 3.3 percent to 4,111.36. Milan’s FTSE MIB suffered the most damage, dropping 4.9 percent to 18,188.44, while London’s FTSE 100 was off 2 percent to 6,417.16.
While the SSE Composite Index in Shanghai was up 3.6 percent to 3,350.52, both the Nikkei 225 in Tokyo and Hang Seng Index in Hong Kong also slumped, although far less than European and U.S. markets. The Nikkei was off 0.2 percent to 17,408.71 and the Hang Seng down 0.6 percent to 23,721.32 at the close of their trading days.
Vince Holding Corp. weathered the largest decline among the 100 international fashion, retail and beauty stocks covered by the WWD Global Stock Tracker, dropping 6.5 percent to $24.26, while American Apparel Inc. slipped below the $1 mark with a 6.1 percent decrease to 99 cents.
Carrefour SA dropped 4.9 percent to 23.86 euros, or $28.64 at current exchange, while Quiksilver Inc. was down 4.6 percent, to $2.10, and Marks and Spencer Group plc off 4.1 percent to 4.56 pounds, or $6.99.
U.S. equities with substantial global businesses felt the effects of the euro’s decline. G-III Apparel Group Ltd. was off 3.6 percent to $96.39, PVH Corp. off 3.5 percent to $121.91 and Ralph Lauren Corp. off 2.9 percent to $177.88.
J.C. Penney Co. Inc. shares rose 2.4 percent to $6.44, but the most substantial gains went to firms traded in Asia. Shanghai Metersbonwe logged the largest increase among tracker stocks, gaining 6.6 percent to close at 11.25 yuan, or $1.81, and Giordano International Ltd. was up 4.8 percent to 3.74 Hong Kong dollars, or 48 cents. Youngor Group Co. advanced 3.5 percent to 11.92 yuan, or $1.92, and Luen Thai Holdings Ltd, was up 2.8 percent to 1.47 Hong Kong dollars, or 19 cents.
Ted Baker plc rose 3 percent to 22.51 pounds, or $34.50.