LONDON (The Deal) -- European markets were in a cautious mood again on Tuesday, with worries over tit-for-tat sanctions between Russia and the West over the Ukraine again tempering investors' enthusiasm for risk. Moscow has recognized Crimea's status as an independent nation, following Sunday's vote to leave Ukraine and is now preparing to accede to its request to join Russia.
However, there was enough company news to keep traders active. In London, supermarket J. Sainsbury led the listed grocers down, after announcing falling sales in the final quarter of 2003. The U.K.'s No. 3 supermarket group said it maintained its 17% market share, however, which indicated falling sales for its competitors too. And outgoing CEO Justin King had some further glum news for the sector. He said the market was now growing at its slowest rate since 2005 and customers would continue to find this year challenging.
Big falls also in the mining sector, as Chilean copper miner Antofagasta announced a drop of 11% in revenues and 30% in profits. Oddly, despite offering a smaller dividend than last year, Antofagasta was rewarded with a rising share price and topped the London leader board this morning. But other miners, including Glencore Xstrata, Mexican silver miner Fresnillo and South Africa's Randgold Resources were all lower.
Meanwhile in Germany, shares in automaker Volkswagen fell on the news that the board of Swedish truckmaker Scania, which is 63% owned by Volkswagen, rejected the German group's 6.7 billion euros ($9.3 billion) offer for the remaining equity as too low. The offer was set about 50% higher than Scania's undisturbed share price, but is felt to have come at the bottom of the truck cycle. Scania was trading at Skr190 this morning, below Volkswagen's offer price of Skr200. Volkswagen's day wasn't improved by figures from the European Automobile Manufacturers' Association figures showing that while European Union car sales were up in February, VW's sales and market share were down.