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The ‘Menaissance’: Guys are dropping a bundle on clothes

These are stories Report on Business is following Wednesday, March 12, 2014.

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New threads
A global "Menaissance" is gathering speed as the male species tries to look ever more dashing.

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Sales of menswear rose last year by just shy of 5 per cent, outpacing womenswear around the world and in crucial retail markets like the United States, Germany and Britain, Euromonitor reports.

In new research - "The global Menaissance gathers momentum" - Euromonitor cited the rise in personal grooming and appearance and dedicated "fashion weeks."

The consumer research group also noted how the Internet is a "key educational and transactional platform" for men's clothing.

Men still have some catching up to do: They now account for 25 per cent of the global clothing and footwear market, while women represent 39 per cent, by far the largest.

The news website Quartz, which also reported on Euromonitor's findings, noted that sales of suits have climbed by 107 per cent since 1998, adjusted for inflation, nightwear by 100 per cent, swimwear by 92 per cent, underwear by 84 per cent, jeans by 77 per cent, shorts and pants by 76 per cent, and shirts by 73 per cent.

(Jumper sales rose almost 40 per cent. I didn't know men wore jumpers, or even exactly what a jumper is, so I Googled it, and they do.)

As The Globe and Mail's Marina Strauss reports, by the way, men's clothing prices fell 8.8 per cent in Canada between 2002 and 2013, while prices for women's apparel plunged 22 per cent.

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Copper sinks
Copper prices sank again today, hitting their lowest level in almost four years, largely on concerns over economic growth in China.

That rippled through Asian markets.

Investors are watching developments in the copper market with "awe and trepidation," said Kit Juckes, the chief of foreign exchange at Société Générale.

"It's partly ongoing concern about Chinese growth (or lack thereof) and nagging worries about the Ukraine," he said today.

"And partly it is just that the commodity bubble burst last year and not everyone noticed."

Stocks sink
Markets are weaker so far this morning as developments in China and Ukraine weigh on the minds of investors.

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Tokyo's Nikkei sank by 2.6 per cent, and Hong Kong's Hang Seng by 1.7 per cent.

In Europe, London's FTSE 100, Germany's DAX and the Paris CAC 40 were down by between 1 per cent and 1.4 per cent by about 8:30 a.m. ET.

New York markets were also heading for a weaker open, based on futures.

"U.S. indices are expected to track their European counterparts lower on Wednesday, as a severe lack of news or data leaves investors still focusing on the apparent slowdown in China and the ongoing crisis in the Ukraine," said market analyst Craig Erlam of Alpari in London.

"On the bright side, the end of the week should be a little better, particularly the Asian session tonight when we'll get Japanese investment data, the latest Australian employment figures, U.K. housing data and Chinese industrial production, retail sales and investment figures," he added in a research note.

"All of these are likely to be key in driving both the European and U.S. sessions tomorrow, assuming of course that there are no developments in the Ukraine."

King seeks up to $24 a share
The maker of Candy Crush Saga is looking to go public at between $21 and $24 (U.S.) a share, a price that would value the Irish company at more than $7.5-billion at the high end of that range.

King Digital Entertainment PLC, which makes the wildly popular game for mobile devices, is selling more than 22 million shares, some 15.5 million of its own and 6.5 million from its shareholders.

King, which will go public on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol KING, says in regulatory documents that it had some 124 million active daily users in the fourth quarter of last year, and 408 million monthly active users.

It cited revenue of $602-million and a profit of $159-million in the quarter.

"Our recent annual revenue and gross bookings growth rates should not be considered indicative of our future performance," King said in documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

"As we grow our business, we expect these annual growth rates to slow in future periods as the size of our player network increases and as we achieve higher market penetration rates," it added.

"Although we were profitable in the past, we expect to make significant investments in growing our business and significantly increase our employee headcount, which could reduce our profitability compared to past periods," it added.

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