US stocks ended lower on Tuesday on the continued unrest in the Middle East. The Dow Jones Industrial average closed down 17.90 points, or 0.15 percent, at 12,018.63. The S&P 500 Index lost 4.61 points, or 0.36 percent, to end at 1,293.77. The Nasdaq Composite fell 0.31 percent.
Drugstore chain Walgreen (NYSE:WAG) plunged 6.58 percent after it reported second quarter earnings that were higher than last year’s, but below the heightened expectation of investors.
Meanwhile, Bristol-Myers (NYSE:BMY) rose 1.12 percent on positive news regarding its skin cancer drug that’s currently awaiting approval from the US Food and Drug Administration.
Crude oil futures rose 1.6 percent on the ongoing conflict in the Middle East. Libya continues to be embroiled in a civil war, while Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh warned that his country may descend into one as well.
Futures on the S&P 500 are down 0.23 percent, futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average are down 0.18 percent and Nasdaq100 futures are down 0.52 percent.
The euro declined 0.12 percent to 1.4178 against the dollar and the yen gained 0.24 percent against the greenback. Crude oil futures advanced 0.10 percent to $105.07 a barrel and gold futures advanced 0.26 percent.
European stock markets declined in early trade on Wednesday as investors await a key vote on austerity measures in Portugal.
The Stoxx Europe 600 Index declined 0.22 percent to 271.19. DAX30 declined 47.83 points or 0.71 percent to 6,733.14, CAC 40 declined 8.34 points or 0.21 percent 3,884.37 and the FTSE 100 fell 15.76 points or 0.27 percent to 5,746.95.
Portugal Prime Minister Jose Socrates has said he will resign if his austerity plan is defeated. The nation's main opposition party may vote against it, according to some reports, which raised concerns that the fiscal situation would deteriorate if the austerity plan was turned down.
Among retailers, J Sainsbury Plc. plunged 4.6 percent after the U.K. supermarket operator said sales slowed more than analysts anticipated. Tesco Plc. declined 2.47 percent and Morrison Supermarkets Plc fell 0.03 percent.
BMW AG gained 0.12 percent to 54.76 euros after the company stock was upgraded to “outperform” from “market perform” at Bernstein Research.
Inditex SA surged 1.9 percent to 55.03 euro after the company said its fourth quarter net income rose 14 percent to 533 million euro. Sales rose 10 percent to 3.68 billion euros from 3.33 billion euros in the last year.
Asian stock markets ended mixed on Wednesday; with Tokyo shares declining more than 1 percent on worries over nuclear crisis in Japan and unrest in the Middle East.
Japanese stocks ended lower after officials reported that Tokyo tap water is unsafe for infants to drink after levels of radioactive iodine exceeded recommended limits. Benchmark Nikkei declined 1.65 percent or 158.85 points to 9,449.47.
Shares of Tokyo Electric Power, Japan's biggest utility and operator of the Fukushima nuclear-power plant, plunged 4.46 percent to 1,049 yen after gaining as much as 7 percent in the early trade.
Among the automakers, Honda Motor declined 1.74 percent to 3,090 yen and Toyota Motor declined 1.19 percent to 3,305 as the companies extended production halts due to shortages of parts and raw materials.
Among the exporters, Canon Inc. gained 2.2 percent to 3,715 yen and Sony Corp. declined 0.15 percent to 2,596 yen, while Fujitsu Ltd. plunged 6.5 percent.
Hong Kong shares ended flat with benchmark Hang Seng index declining 32.50 points or 0.14 percent to 22,825.40. China Coal Energy plunged 9.13 percent and China Life Insurance declined 2.05 percent as their fiscal 2010 earnings fell short of expectations. Meanwhile Chinese Shanghai composite gained 1.03 percent or 29.93 points to 2,949.07.
South Korean shares ended flat as gains from health and medical care related stocks were offset by declines in refiners and banking stocks. Seoul composite declined 1.48 points or 0.07 percent to 2,012.18. Shinhan Financial Group declined 1.03 percent and Hana Financial group fell 1.93 percent.