LONDON — European stock markets were down in midmorning trading on Thursday following comments from Janet Yellen, chair of the U.S. Federal Reserve, about the future of interest rate rises and pressures on the global economy.
The FTSE MIB in Milan, which had rallied earlier this week, fell 4.8 percent to 15,916.20, while the CAC 40 in Paris fell 2.9 percent to 3,943.05. The FTSE 100 in London and the DAX in Frankfurt were both down 2.4 percent, to 5,538.46 and to 8,801.97 respectively.
The euro traded at $1.13, while the pound fetched $1.45 and the Swiss franc equaled $1.03 at 9:45 a.m. CET.
Retail and luxury stocks were down with the markets, with the morning’s biggest fallers including Salvatore Ferragamo, 3 percent to 18.81 euros; Safilo Group, 3.3 percent to 7.48 euros; Swatch Group, 3 percent to 62.10 Swiss francs; Metro, 4 percent to 23.72 euros; Burberry Group, 3.4 percent to 11.24 pounds, and Hugo Boss, 3.5 percent to 64.18 euros.
Among the few stocks that gained ground were Italia Independent Group, 2.6 percent to 19.50 euros; French Connection Group, 1.8 percent to 0.43 pounds, and Adidas, 2 percent to 88.77 euros after the company outstripped sales projections for 2015.
Sales at the German sports brand climbed 16 percent on a reported basis and 10 percent at constant exchange rates.
On Wednesday, Yellen had her twice-yearly meeting with Congress and indicated there would be no further rises in interest rates in the near future, meaning that growth is sputtering in the U.S. The bank raised rates in December by 0.25 percent for the first time in nearly a decade.
She pointed to low commodity prices as a future threat to growth in some countries, and to economic uncertainty in China. She also said that financial conditions in the U.S. have become “less supportive” of growth.