European equities markets were lower again Wednesday after Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services cut Spain’s credit rating from AA+ to AA just a day after it downgraded Portugal’s credit rating by two notches and cut Greece’s rating to junk status, causing continuing concern that the debt crisis in Greece could spread to other European economies.
In London, the FTSE 100 was down 0.3 percent to 5,586.61 while the FTSE 250 dropped 1.63 percent to 10,299.04.
Royal Dutch Shell’s A and B (LSE: RDSA, RDSB) shares were higher after it reported that profits in the first quarter were up 57 percent, with A shares adding 2.33 percent while B shares gained 2.47 percent.
The gains for RDS pulled BP (LSE: BP) 2.46 percent higher, while oil and gas producer BG Group (LSE: BG) led advances on the 100 as it added 3.93 percent.
But the energy sector was mixed as oil and gas construction and engineering group Lamprell (LSE: LAM) led declines in the sector as it fell 5 percent, while oil and gas explorer Melrose Resources (LSE: MRS) nearly matched Lamprell‘s decline, dropping 4.99 percent.
The best performer in London was investment manager Gartmore Group (LSE: GRT), which added 15.49 percent on the 250 after it said it will reinstate a manager who was suspended last month during an investigation into his dealings after the internal inquiry showed no dishonesty on his part, although the company said he did violate internal trading policies.
Gas and electricity utility Centrica (LSE: CNA) led decliners in its sector and on the 100, dropping 4.82 percent as it traded ex-dividend.
Also trading ex-dividend was publisher Reed Elsevier (LSE: REL), which fell 3.96 percent on the 100, while publisher and conference organizer Informa (LSE: INF) was down 5.84 percent on the 250.
The biggest decline on the 250 and in London came from online gambler 888 Holdings (LSE: 888) as it fell 12.9 percent in the mostly lower travel and leisure sector, but transport specialist Stagecoach Group (LSE: SGC) added 1.44 percent in the sector.
Banks were mixed, with Standard Chartered (LSE: STAN) adding 0.23 percent for the best performance in the sector, while Royal Bank of Scotland (LSE: RBS) dropped 1.88 percent for the biggest decline among London banks.
Markets in the Asia-Pacific region were lower on concerns about growing debt issues in Europe after Standard & Poor’s cut its credit ratings on Greece and Portugal on Tuesday, which led to worries that their problems could spread to other European nations.
The Nikkei 225 was down 2.57 percent to 10,924.79 in Tokyo, while the Topix index fell 2 percent to 977.64 and the Mothers market dropped 0.81 percent to 502.35 as exporters were hurt by the yen’s strength in relation to the US dollar and the euro.
Oil producer Inpex (TYO: 1605) was down 3 percent as the oil sector fell on declines in crude oil prices, while industrial robot maker Fanuc (6954) was 5.3 percent lower on profit-taking after yesterday’s gains.
Automobile manufacturer Honda Motor (TYO: 7267) fell 1.5 percent, but after the markets closed it said its annual operating profit will likely be up around 10 percent on growing demand in the US, while Mazda Motor (TYO: 7261) dropped 3.9 percent on a disappointing earnings forecast.
In shares related to the semiconductors sector, Kyocera (TYO: 6971) was down 3 percent wile Tokyo Electron (TYO: 8035) fell 3.9 percent and Advantest Corp (TYO: 6857) was 5.2 percent lower.
Copier maker Canon (TYO: 7751) was down 3.5 percent while electronics giant Sony (TYO: 6758) dropped 3.4 percent on the session.
Despite more bad news from Europe, New York markets were mixed in early afternoon trade as the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 0.41 percent to 11,037.41 and the S&P 500 had added 0.52 percent to 1,189.86, but the Nasdaq Composite was down 0.18 percent to 2,466.95.
Crude oil prices were mixed as West Texas Intermediate crude was up slightly in New York but Brent crude had dropped a bit in London trade.
Among metals trading in New York, gold and silver were up, with silver showing just a slight gain, while copper traded even at shortly before 1 p.m.