EU markets close low, Spain underperforms
The European stock markets closed lower yesterday as investors opted to lighten up ahead of the start of the US Federal Reserve's monetary policy meeting today.Madrid - The European stock markets closed lower yesterday as investors opted to lighten up ahead of the start of the US Federal Reserve's monetary policy meeting today.
Spain underperformed with regard to the rest of the major European bourses after a sharp fall in retail sales in March pointed to the economy slowing at a greater clip than had previously been thought.
The domestic market opened lower after an indifferent performance overnight by Wall Street. When New York opened lower after weak US consumer confidence data for April, the fate of the European markets was sealed.
The Spanish blue-chip Ibex 35 index closed down 1.23 percent at 13,707.20 points after trading in a range of 13,688-13,834 points. The Madrid general index shed 1.10 percent to 1,474.84 points. Turnover in the continuous market remained on the low side at just over 3 billion Euro.
One of the highlights of the day was the release of Santander's financial results for the first quarter. Spain's biggest bank announced record earnings for the quarter as it avoided the pitfalls of the US subprime crisis. Its stock closed unchanged at 13.70 Euro. Its biggest rival BBVA added 0.07 percent.
The biggest faller among blue-chips was Sacyr Vallehermoso, which closed down 4.91 percent after its toll road unit Itínere pulled a planned share offer. The builder had been looking to reduce its heavy debt with the proceeds from the offer.
Sacyr was closely followed by Inditex, which shed 4.72 percent after retail sales dropped 8.7 percent in March. Spain's largest fashion retailer obtains some 38 percent of its group sales in Spain.
Market leader Telefónica gave up 1.65 percent.