A chart of the German DAX index is seen on a screen at the Frankfurt Stock Exchange, Germany. March 13, 2023. REUTERS/Staff

March 15 (Reuters) – European stock markets opened lower on Wednesday as declines in Inditex and H&M, two of the world’s biggest fashion retailers, weighed on the broad retail sector index.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index was down 0.2% at 0815 GMT, and the retail index was down 1.9%.

Shares of Inditex, the world’s largest fashion retailer, which owns Zara, fell more than 3% when the opening bell rang. The company had recorded a 27% increase in net profit in 2022.

H&M, the world’s second-largest fashion retailer, reported a 12% increase in net sales for December-February, but analysts called the results “somewhat disappointing”. H&M shares fell more than 5%.

Pessimism over earnings from European retailers overshadowed hopes of lower interest rates and cautious optimism over the US banking sector.

European markets posted their biggest one-day rise in nearly three months on Tuesday, on rising hopes that the US Federal Reserve would slow the pace of rate hikes following the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank (SVB).

(Reporting by Shreyashi Sanyal in Bengaluru; Editing by Savio D’Souza, Spanish editing by José Muñoz)

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