The Chinese economy is suffering under the country's strict Covid control measures

London (AFP) - Stock markets fell Wednesday following weak Chinese data and as traders assessed results of US midterm elections.

The dollar rose strongly versus the British pound – a currency under pressure owing to the UK’s bleak economic outlook.

Oil prices retreated as official data from China showed the world’s second-largest economy languishing under its strict zero-Covid policy.

Bitcoin continued to slide on fallout from the near-collapse of cryptocurrency platform FTX, reaching the lowest level for two years at $17,172.43.

Eyes will be on Facebook owner Meta at the reopening of Wall Street after the company said it would lay off 11,000 staff, in a move which follows a recent plunge of its valuation.

- US midterms -

Republican hopes for a sweeping rebuke of President Joe Biden in congressional elections failed to materialise, with both parties picking up seats following a campaign fought against a backdrop of stubbornly high inflation and fears for US democracy.

Biden, who framed the race as a clash between defenders of democracy and the “extremist” camp of Donald Trump, spent election night in back-to-back calls with Democrats savouring their wins in Senate, House and gubernatorial races around the country.

“The bigger takeaway from the election may well be what support there is for Trump-backed candidates and what that does for his own re-election hopes in two years. But that’s unlikely to sway the markets now, not with so much else to focus on,” noted Oanda analyst Craig Erlam.

“Investors are more focused on the inflation data on Thursday and whether that will pave the way for a slower pace of (US interest rate) tightening in December and early next year.”

- ‘No good news from China’ -

In China, speculation over how long Beijing will keep its harsh lockdown-and-testing Covid-19 policies has fuelled volatility on markets, despite the government vowing it will not change course.

The restrictions have taken a toll on the Chinese economy. Data Wednesday showed China’s producer price index (PPI) fell by 1.3 percent on-year in October, pushing it into negative territory for the first time since December 2020.

The consumer price index (CPI) – the main gauge for retail inflation – rose 2.1 percent year-on-year in October, moderating slightly from September’s two-year high of 2.8 percent.

“The economy’s slowing, confirmed by the CPI data,” Iris Pang, chief economist for Greater China at ING Wholesale Banking, told AFP.

“I don’t see any good news from China.”

- Key figures around 1115 GMT -

London - FTSE 100: DOWN 0.2 percent at 7,293.33 points

Frankfurt - DAX: DOWN 0.5 percent at 13,620.61

Paris - CAC 40: DOWN 0.2 percent at 6,428.74

EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 0.4 percent at 3,725.09

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: DOWN 0.6 percent at 27,716.43 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng Index: DOWN 1.2 percent at 16,358.52 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: DOWN 0.5 percent at 3,048.17 (close)

New York - Dow: UP 1.0 percent at 33,160.83 (close)

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.1456 from $1.1468 on Tuesday

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.0059 from $1.0005

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 145.61 yen from 146.26 yen

Euro/pound: UP at 87.77 pence from 87.23 pence

West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 0.6 percent at $88.41 per barrel

Brent North Sea crude: DOWN 0.5 percent at $94.92 per barrel