Stocks Fall as Japanese Trade Data and Euro Concerns Weigh


LONDON -- Equity markets have been trading in the red in Europe today, pressured after overnight data from Japan showed the country had a wider-than-expected trade deficit. Elsewhere, attention is continuing to focus on the peripheral countries as Jean-Claude Juncker, prime minister of Luxembourg and head of the group of euro-area finance ministers, visits Athens to hear an official request from Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras for a two-year extension to the country's fiscal adjustment program.

With this risk-off attitude, the Spanish IBEX (INDEX: ^IBEX) is one of the worst-performing benchmark indexes on the continent, down almost 2%.

As always, the following price moves are based on this morning's European trading.

Financial stocks are underperforming on the Spanish market today as broader concerns surrounding Europe and sovereign debt continue to weigh on the sector. This is led by profit taking in Banco Espirito Santo (NASDAQOTH: BKESY.PK), which is down 4% on profit-taking after it hit a six-week high thanks to a strong performance from its Spanish assets.

Meanwhile, Banco Santander (NYS: SAN) is down 2.2% despite conducting the first successful bond sale for a Spanish bank in five months yesterday. Santander sold 2 billion euros in two-year senior unsecured notes at a yield of 4.375%, priced at 390 basis points above the benchmark swap rate. This came as Spain itself sold 12-month bills at a rate of only 3.07% -- far better than the 3.918% yield required at the country's last debt sale in July.

On a more positive note, Nokia (NYS: NOK) is once again seeing some of the most significant gains today, up 2.6% following news that Verizon Wireless will sell the company's latest handset, which will use the Windows 8 operating system, when it is released in early September. Nokia has had a longstanding relationship with the U.S. No. 2 wireless operator, AT&T, and hopes are that this move will act as a beachhead in gaining further exposure with the country's No. 1 provider.

Elsewhere, Norwegian fish farm plant Marine Harvest (NASDAQOTH: MNHVY.PK) is up 2.3% after analysts at Nordea suggested the price of salmon, which is the main focus of Marine Harvest, is set to rise significantly starting in November. They expect an average price of 30 kroner per kilogram in 2013. Today, Oslo-based processor Morpol said sales of smoked salmon increased by 20% in Germany, indicating the steady increase in demand for fresh salmon may also be spilling over to the smoked and cured variety.

As always, this morning's European news saw some winners and losers -- and perhaps some European buying opportunities. Indeed, legendary investor Warren Buffett has recently spent more than $1 billion buying the stock of a prominent European large cap. If you want to know why Buffett has bought into Europe, this special Motley Fool report -- "The One European Share Warren Buffett Loves" -- reveals everything, including the price he paid. You can download the report today for free.

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