Shares of leading European and Asian luxury and retail firms were hit Monday after Greek voters nixed the bailout terms proposed by the nation’s creditors.
Stock markets in Europe and Asia — with the exception of Shanghai — all fell Monday after the Greek vote the day before. In the U.S., the S&P Retailing Industry Group index dropped 0.1 percent to 1,143, and the WWD Global Stock Tracker declined 0.6 percent to 111.49.
LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton took one of the steepest dives in Europe, with the company’s stock slipping 3.5 percent to 152.34 euros, or $168.47. Yoox SpA slid by 2.6 percent, to 28.24 euros, or $31.27. Salvatore Ferragamo took a 2.3 percent dive to 25.67 euros, or $28.43.
In the U.S., retail decliners included Sears Holdings Corp., which fell 2.8 percent to $24.81, and Elizabeth Arden Inc., which dropped 4 percent to $13.13. Movado Group Inc. lost 2.6 percent to close at $27.02. Still, many U.S. retail stocks were resistant to the selloff, and shares of Guess Inc. rose 3.3 percnt to $19.69, while J.C. Penney Co. Inc. gained 2.1 percent to close at $8.73. Burlington Stores Inc. posted a gain of 2.7 percent to finish the day at $52.77.
Hong Kong was the worst-performer of Asian markets, with the Hang Seng shedding 3.18 percent, or 827.83 points, to close the day at 25, 236.28. Esprit Holdings closed down 2.1 percent to 7.10 Hong Kong dollars, while Prada dipped 0.1 percent to 38.20 Hong Kong dollars.
In terms of Japanese retail stocks, Fast Retailing lost 1.67 percent to end the day at 54,810 yen. Also in negative territory, Isetan Mitsukoshi lost 3.32 percent to close at 2,241 yen, and Onward Holdings shed 2.05 percent to end at 811 yen.
The differing performances of the various markets stemmed as much from the economic conditions in the respective regions as it did from the Greek referendum. U.S. stocks didn’t decline as significantly as those in Europe and Asia as investors weighed Greece’s economic woes against a possible delay in raising interest rates by the Federal Reserve. The struggle facing investors is simple: the U.S. economy is poised to continue its expansion trajectory, which means interests rates will go up. But concerns over Greece along with real wage growth, employment and a strong dollar has investors in U.S. equities unsure which way to turn.
The days ahead will be crucial for Greece as the European Central Bank determines whether to loan the country’s banks more money to keep them afloat.
Nomura research analysts Hisao Matsuura, Masaki Motomura and Kiichi Fujita in Tokyo on Monday outlined potential outcomes for the situation.
“If the ECB extends further [emergency liquidity assistance], the impending crisis for Greece’s banks will likely be averted for the time being. However, if the likelihood of Greece leaving the euro zone increases, we would then expect the sustainability of the euro itself to become a theme,” they said in a research note. “If the current crisis is limited to Greece, we would expect Japanese stocks to benefit in a straightforward way from abundant liquidity.”
The country’s “No” vote, which had been backed by the antiausterity government of Alexis Tsipras, means that Greece could be moving closer to an exit from the euro zone and the country’s shutdown once its banks run out of cash this week.
The country’s finance minister, Yanis Varoufakis, has resigned, and the country is hopeful it can hammer out a debt restructuring plan with its major creditors, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the European Union.
Nigel Green, founder and chief executive officer of deVere Group, categorized the Greek “no” vote as a “revolt,” but also felt it would translate into a buying opportunity once things settle down.
“There will be extensive negotiations taking place right now behind the scenes between Athens and its creditors,” said Green. “I suspect there will be a degree of debt relief for Greece, but euro zone leaders will be aware of the considerable consequences of softening their stance too much.”
Green said other “debt-shackled euro zone countries’ ‘anti’ view” will contribute to widespread uncertainty and further sell-offs as investors “seek perceived safe havens such as gilts [British Government Securities] and U.S. Treasuries.”
Greek’s economic woes and their impact on global business has been a severe nuisance for international investors for the past six months who are also grappling with a strong dollar and its effect on sales and profits of multinational firms. And then there’s the imploding Chinese stock market, which is now like an albatross on the necks of global fund managers.
Amid this financial drama, the U.S. economy is still well-positioned to continue its expansion. It’s important to note that stock prices – although suffering declines recently – remain historically high. For example, the WWD Global Stock Tracker is up 4.9 percent for the six-month period. And a robust Wall Street helps boost household wealth, say economists.
IHS Global Insights senior research director Sara Johnson and director Patrick Newport said in their monthly research brief that after stalling in early 2015, “the U.S. expansion is resuming. The real [gross domestic product] decline in the first quarter was revised to 0.2 percent (annual rate). This was a better outcome than the previous report of a 0.7 percent drop, because of upward revisions to consumer spending and investment. The first-quarter decline was mostly due to harsh winter weather and labor stoppages at West Coast ports.”
The economists have real gross domestic product pegged to grow 2.4 percent in the second quarter, which is “a slight improvement from 2.1 percent growth in the June forecast, thanks to a May resurgence in consumer spending on vehicles and other discretionary goods.”
The upswing in consumer spending is notable, and will drive the economy — as long as shoppers loosen up their purse strings. “Supported by robust gains in employment and household wealth, real consumer spending growth will pick up to a 2.9 percent rate in the second quarter and then meet or exceed 3 percent in the final two quarters of 2015,” the economists added. “With stock prices and home prices rising, household net worth increased to $84.9 trillion in the first quarter, surpassing its 2007 pre-recession peak by 25 percent.”
But what about household debt? On that front, the IHS economists said “consumer credit and home mortgage debt declined to 96 percent of disposable personal income, the lowest ratio since 2002.”
Still, the uncertainty with Greece is likely to be protracted, observers predicted. That means “the sell-off and buying opportunity could also last some time, unlike last week when markets bounced back quickly,” Green said.