LONDON (TheDeal) -- European markets performed a backflip on Wednesday, opening at new highs and then plummeting to well below Tuesday's close within the first couple of hours of trading. After cheering the news that Tokyo's Nikkei 225 closed above 20,000 points for the first time in 15 years after Japan booked its monthly first trade surplus since June 2012, investors refocused on domestic worries and a continued fear of a Greek exit from the eurozone.
The FTSE 100 was down 0.50% to 7,0927.75, while in Paris, the CAC 40 was down 0.4% to 5,172.02. In Frankfurt, the DAX was down 0.61% to 11,866.68.
Even Britain's biggest retailer Tesco (TSCDY) managed to climb a few pence in early trading, after it announced the biggest loss by a British retailer so far. Tesco reported a £6.4 billion pretax loss for the year to Feb. 28, including a £4.7 billion write-down on its property portfolio, among other horrors.
But Tesco's new chief executive, Dave Lewis, pointed to what he said were "early encouraging signs" that what the company had done so far to stop the slide was beginning to work. The market seemed to agree that Tesco had drawn a line under the past and the only way from here was up. But then Tesco stock briefly dipped below yesterday's closing price of 234.75 pence, only to rebound just above the line at 234.95 pence.
Shares in U.K. aircraft engine maker Rolls-Royce Holdings (RYCEY) topped the FTSE 100's biggest risers after it announced the sudden departure of its chief executive. It is replacing John Rishton with Warren East, a former chief executive of U.K. chip-maker ARM Holdings (ARMH). Rolls-Royce was up 3.18% at 1,039.0 pence.
Building supplies group Travis Perkins (TVPKF) reported like-for-like sales growth of 5.1% in the first quarter, down from 15.6% in the same period a year earlier. The growth comes despite a 6.1% contraction in the plumbing and heating business. The company is still seen positively and was the second biggest riser behind Rolls-Royce, up 1.58% at 2,051.0 pence.
In Switzerland, luxury goods group Cie. Financière Richemont issued a profit warning because of the strength of the Swiss franc, and said net profit for the financial year to March 31 is expected to be down 36%. Its shares were down 1.14% at Sfr82.15
Finland's Nokia (NOK) got a boost after German publication Manager Magazin reported its maps business, HERE, has drawn interest from at least four potential acquirers, including Facebook (FB) and a consortium of German carmakers BMW (BAMXY), Audi and Daimler (DDAIF), and that Uber is looking at its books. Private equity firm Hellman & Friedman is also reported to be interested. Nokia was up 2.38% at €7.51.
German lighting equipment maker Osram Licht (OSAGF) extended Tuesday's gains after announcing a plan to spin out its traditional light bulb business and focus on its lighting systems activities. But by the end of the morning, its shares were down 0.72% at €50.63
In Asia, the Nikkei 225 closed up 1.13% to 20,133.90 and in Hong Kong the Hang Seng finished the day up 0.3% to 27,933.85. The Shanghai Composite was up 2.44% at 4,398.50.