Recent concerns over the political instability in Ukraine are contributing to a decline in European stock prices, including those of retailers. European stocks fell yesterday, continuing a one-month low. Retailers affected include Wm Morrison Supermarkets, Tesco, J Sainsbury, and Delhaize.
"Investors will be reluctant to take large positions before the weekend with the Crimea referendum," said Jean-Paul Jeckelmann, Former Chief Investment Officer at Banque Bonhote & Cie. in Neuchatel, Switzerland. "The background remains uncertain. We don’t know what the international reaction will be. Sanctions, military interventions will all weigh on markets."
Despite warnings from Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, Russia's Defense Ministry announced new military operations involving armored and airborne troops near Ukraine's border, according to the New York Times. Ukraine's acting president, Oleksandr Turchynov was quoted by the Ukrainian news media as saying that Russian forces have amassed near the border and are "ready to invade."
Further complicating matters, UK retailer Wm Morrison Supermarkets Plc (MRW) on Thursday reported a potential 50% drop in profits. The market reacted with a 10% decline in Wm Morrison's share price, according to the Financial Times. Wm Morrison has cut its prices to compete with discount retailers like Aldi and Lidi. The company also said it will sell $1.7 billion in property over the next three years, according to Bloomberg.
The UK market's reaction also included other UK retailers J Sainsbury, which fell more than 6%, and Tesco which went down 3%.
Delhaize Group shares went down 8.3%, after predicting reduced profits in Belgium.
Although there are specific reasons for some of these documented declines, analysts have noted a general decline in European markets, which is perceived to be tied, at least in part, to instabilities in Ukraine. The United States and Germany have increased pressure on Russia to change its position and not annex the autonomous republic of Crimea, located in southeastern region of Ukraine.
On March 16, the legislature of Crimea is scheduled to hold the Crimea Referendum, wherein the people of the region will be asked whether they want to join Russia as a federal subject, or remain an autonomous republic within Ukraine, according to Reuters. Many are hopeful that a peaceful diplomatic solution is still possible. In the meantime, European markets may continue to be affected by these political uncertainties.