UK stock markets pushed downwards this morning, led by retail stocks, after electronics retailers Di...
UK stock markets pushed downwards this morning, led by retail stocks, after electronics retailers Dixons Group, said falling mobile phone sales brought its own Christmas sales down in stores which have been open at least a year.
The benchmark FTSE 100 index fell 12.10 points, or 0.3%, to 5237 and Dixons lost 5.75% to 225.5p when the company posted a first-half profit before taxes and one-time items of £87m ($125m), down from £90.8m last year.
Marks & Spencer were subsequently hit and fell fell 0.6% to 363p, followed by Boots which also dropped 0.8% to 590p and Laura Ashley plunged as much as 16% after the open to 23pwhen it said it expects pretax profit before exceptional items to be ``similar'' to last year because of a fall in tourism from the US and Japan.
Oil companies have also been hit this morning after the price of crude oil expected to be delivered in February lost as much as 53 cents to $20.72 a barrel in after-hours electronic trading. BP fell 0.8% to 518p and Shell Transport & Trading lost 0.8% to 464.25p.
US stocks slid yesterday after Merrill Lynch analysts cut earnings forecasts for banks and telecommunications companies.
Citigroup and FleetBoston Financial Corp. dropped after Merrill's Judah Kraushaar said losses stemming from Argentina's currency devaluation - and the possible bankruptcy of the Argentine banking system - will reduce 2002 profits. AT&T Wireless Services Inc. declined after the biggest brokerage cut its forecast for global wireless stocks.
Citigroup fell $1.89 to $49.50, its biggest one-day drop in more than a month and FleetBoston lost 91 cents to $34.60, as both banks are expected to be hit badly by exposure to the Argentine crisis.
Kraushaar, Merrill's respected bank analyst according to Institutional Investor's annual survey, cut his forecast for Citigroup's and FleetBoston's 2002 earnings per share.
The Nasdaq climbed 18.64 points, or 0.9%, to 2055.74 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 46.50 points, or 0.5%, to 10,150.55, while the S&P 500 slipped 4.18 points, or 0.4%, to 1160.71.
Merrill also forecasts lower profit margins for wireless infrastructure and handset suppliers such as Ericsson, Nokia and Motorola, handheld-device makers such as Palm and Research In Motion Ltd and software companies such as Aether Systems.
Asian markets also fell a fraction today after Japan's UFJ Holdings upset hopes that banks would start to come down on delinquent borrowers and announced it is considering ways of keeping struggling retailer Daiei Inc. in business, dashing hopes lenders will get tough on delinquent borrowers.
The Nikkei 225 stock average shed 0.3 percent to 10,663.98 as analysts worry banks will still refuse to say no to borrowing for struggling firms.
And Hong Kong's Hang Seng index also fell 2.3% led by China Mobile on concern the mobile phone operator may expand into the competitive fixed-line business.
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