December 8, 2023

Concerns Over China Push Stocks Lower

Stocks on Wall Street closed slightly higher Friday following a slew of mixed earnings reports, and despite fears that an overhaul of China’s industry could slow down the world’s second-largest economy.

By the end of trading the Standard Poor’s 500-share index and the Dow Jones industrial average were up less than 1 percent, and the Nasdaq composite was 0.2 percent higher. reported a loss for the second quarter, but shares rose 2.9 percent.

Beijing has ordered companies to close factories in 19 industries where overproduction has led to price-cutting wars, affirming its determination to push ahead with a painful makeover of the economy. That move followed weak manufacturing data on Wednesday. China’s Shanghai Composite dropped 0.5 percent to 2,010.85.

In Europe, Britain’s FTSE 100 index ended the day down 0.5 percent to 6,554.79 points, while Germany’s DAX fell 0.7 percent to 8,244.91.

France’s CAC 40 bucked the trend, rising 0.3 percent to 3,968.84. It was bolstered by a 3.6 percent rise in the shares of LVMH, the luxury goods maker, after it reported higher earnings. Meanwhile, shares in French media company Vivendi were up 0.6 percent after it agreed to sell most of its majority stake in video games maker Activision.

Over all, trading has been quiet in recent days as a lot of people wait for next week’s meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee in the for guidance on when the central bank will start reducing its monetary stimulus.

Since late last year, the Fed has been buying $85 billion in Treasury and mortgage bonds a month — a move that has kept long-term rates near record lows and supported economic recovery.

In Asia, Japan’s Nikkei 225 index fared worst on Friday, closing 3 percent lower at 14,129.98, due to a big rise in the yen, which risks making the country’s exports less competitive on international markets.

Japan on Friday said consumer prices rose in June for the first time in more than a year, an early sign that the government’s stimulus policies are working. While that is a promising sign in the long-term, the signs of inflation suggest interest rates could eventually increase — higher rates tend to strengthen a national currency. The dollar was down 0.9 percent against the yen, at 98.34 yen.

Elsewhere in the region, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng gained 0.3 percent and Australia’s SP/ASX 200 rose 0.1 percent.

In energy trading, benchmark crude was down 79 cents at $104.70 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

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Hermès Is Selling Its Stake in Gaultier’s Fashion House

Hermès said it had agreed to sell its 45 percent stake in Gaultier to Puig for 16 million euros, or about $24 million, and the Spanish company will also assume 14 million euros in debt. Hermès said last month that it was in talks with several potential buyers for Gaultier.

“I am delighted with this move for a house that is dear to our heart,” Patrick Thomas, the Hermès chief executive, said in a statement. “I am convinced that the alliance between Jean Paul Gaultier and the Puig family will take the house to new highs.”

Mr. Gaultier, who had owned 55 percent of his fashion house, is selling a 15 percent stake to Puig. “It gives me a lot of joy,” he said. “I am not interested in management. I love clothes and I will have the freedom to concentrate on that.”

Marc Puig, chairman and chief executive of Puig, based in Barcelona, said in a statement that his company was “very proud to take over from Hermès and continue the development” of “a brand with such great creativity.”

The Spanish company supports the fashion houses of Nina Ricci, Carolina Herrera and Paco Rabanne and creates fragrances for Comme des Garçons, Prada and the actor Antonio Banderas. The company is growing and eager to raise its profile beyond Europe, where it does more than half of its business.

Hermès is repositioning itself after the unwelcome intrusion into its capital by LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, the luxury conglomerate run by Bernard Arnault. LVMH now holds more than 20 percent of the equity in Hermès, though the ownership structure of the family-controlled luxury company gives Hermès effective control of its destiny for now.

Mr. Gaultier’s cheeky fragrances, including some in bottles shaped like a woman’s body, have been a long-term financial success, making the brand attractive to Puig despite weaknesses elsewhere in the Gaultier lineup. The haute couture line, founded in 1997, just breaks even, although it has a regular clientele. Mr. Gaultier said high-end fashion would be continued in the new deal.

Mr. Gaultier became known in the 1970s for channeling street style and diverse cultures into French fashion. His impertinent and outrageous creations, which included cross-gender models on the catwalk, have been worn by rock stars like Madonna and Lady Gaga. He has also worked with the Spanish film director Pedro Almodóvar.

Puig, founded as a cosmetics company in 1914 by Antonio Puig, booked net profit of 130 million euros last year on revenue of 1.2 billion euros. Its share of the so-called prestige perfume market rose to 7 percent last year from 3.7 percent in 2005, the company said.

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