LONDON (The Deal) -- Stocks in Asia and Europe were weaker on Wednesday, following both Wall Street's decline Tuesday and with some caution in certain markets ahead of Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen's interest rate commentary.
Overnight in Tokyo, which closed down 2.93% at 14,033.45, the market was pulled down by the Bank of Japan's failure to hint at new market stimulus measures and by a 5% decline in mobile network operator Softbank. Softbank produced better than expected profits and continued to attract new subscribers, but was hit by disappointment at the lower than expected valuation of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba which filed for an IPO in New York.. Softbank owns 34.4% of Alibaba.
In Europe, the markets were once again watching developments in Ukraine, but a diverse bunch of company results seem to have pulled in varying directions. In Paris, French bank Societe Generale took a 525 million euros ($730 million) write-down on its Russian business, amid the ongoing crisis in Ukraine, while construction materials group Saint-Gobain sank over 4% after private-equity house Wendel sold 4.3% of the company for a cool 1.0 billion euros. But global retailer Casino, Guichard-Perrachon was up nearly 3% on news it plans to create a new e-commerce platform, listed in the U.S.
The CAC 40 index was unchanged at midday in Paris at 4,428, while in Frankfurt, the DAX was down 0.14% at 9,453.86.
Meanwhile in London, banks pulled the market down, following poor quarterly results for HSBC Holdings (HBC), which saw a 20% decline in profits to $6.8 billion. HSBC was down 1.1% at 597.40 pence. But insurer Legal & General topped the leaderboard, up 2.76% at 219.40 pence, after reporting strong growth in its pension de-risking business. Television company ITV was up 1.1% at 187.90, after agreeing to buy U.S. reality TV production house Letfield Entertainment Group for $360 million. Letfield's productions include Pawn Stars, Counting Cars, American Restoration and Real Housewives of New Jersey.