Investors appear to have gotten the legislative gridlock they wanted
London (AFP) - Global 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 slumped as official data from China showed the world’s second-largest economy languishing under its strict zero-Covid policy and US stockpiles increased.
Shares in Facebook owner Meta jumped 8.0 percent after the company said it would lay off 11,000 staff, in a move which follows a recent plunge of its valuation.
The tech industry is in a serious slump and several major firms have announced mass layoffs – Twitter’s new owner Elon Musk fired half its staff last week.
Ad-supported platforms such as Facebook and Google are suffering with advertisers looking to cut costs as they struggle with inflation and rising interest rates.
Bitcoin continued to slide on fallout from the near-collapse of cryptocurrency platform FTX, reaching the lowest level for two years at $17,052.49.
“Even if you are not involved in cryptos, the turmoil is definitely something to keep an eye on, as it may be an additional factor impacting risk appetite across the financial markets,” said market analyst Fawad Razaqzada at City Index and FOREX.com.
- US midterms -
While equities rose ahead of the vote on the likelihood of legislative gridlock for the next two years, which would mean no new big increases in US government spending and taxes, they fell as results came in.
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.
While Republicans look like they will pick up a slim majority in the House, the outcome in the Senate is still unclear.
“The stock market had a nice, little run leading up to election day based on the gridlock angle,” said Patrick O’Hare at Briefing.com.
“It appears that is going to be the case, so participants are taking some money off the table,” he added.
- ‘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, with Data Wednesday showing 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 1530 GMT -
New York - Dow: DOWN 0.8 percent at 32,898.35 points
EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 0.3 percent at 3,728.03
London - FTSE 100: DOWN 0.1 percent at 7,296.25 (close)
Frankfurt - DAX: DOWN 0.2 percent at 13,666.32 (close)
Paris - CAC 40: DOWN 0.2 percent at 6,430.57 (close)
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)
Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.1415 from $1.1468 on Tuesday
Euro/dollar: UP at $1.0049 from $1.0005
Dollar/yen: DOWN at 146.06 yen from 146.26 yen
Euro/pound: UP at 88.04 pence from 87.23 pence
West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 2.1 percent at $87.01 per barrel
Brent North Sea crude: DOWN 1.8 percent at $93.66 per barrel