Eurozone stock markets fell yesterday as concern about slow growth outweighed the impact of radical new ECB stimulus measures aimed at boosting the bloc’s economy.
A worried World Bank slashed its growth forecast for the global economy on Tuesday, saying advanced economies were rebounding more slowly than expected and that low commodity prices continued to hurt other countries.
Meanwhile official data released yesterday showed that China’s imports decreased in May, although at the slowest pace in 19 months, in a possible sign domestic demand in the world’s second-largest economy may be recovering.
The Asian country is a key driver of world growth and its demand for commodities has enormous implications for resource-rich nations from Australia to Nigeria.
Frankfurt’s DAX 30 stocks index dropped 0.7% and the CAC 40 in Paris slid 0.6%.
Outside the eurozone, London’s FTSE 100 index added 0.3%.
The European Central Bank stepped into uncharted territory yesterday when it began to buy bonds issued by companies, in a bid to also kickstart eurozone inflation.
The hope is that the companies will use the money to invest, thereby stimulating growth, creating jobs and helping push up prices.
Slow eurozone growth has seen inflation slide into negative territory, threatening a dangerous downward spiral of falling prices and wages.
“The European market seems to be still concerned about the health of the global economy,” said market analyst Yoav Nizard and currency broker FXCM. “The rise in oil prices didn’t manage to stop the contraction of Chinese imports and exports in May nor the fragility of the US jobs market which has thrown into doubt the Federal Reserve’s calendar for tightening monetary policy,” he added.
Disappointing May jobs data last week upended expectations of an increase in US interest rates in June or July, leading to a slump in the dollar, which continued yesterday.
The pound, which has come under pressure in volatile trading ahead of the June 23 referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union, meanwhile won support from unexpectedly strong British manufacturing data, traders said.
Asian stock markets diverged yesterday after a positive lead from Wall Street overnight and as Beijing said that last month Chinese imports declined by only 0.4 % in dollar terms, the slowest rate since October 2014.
The World Bank meanwhile issued a downbeat outlook on the global economy, slashing its forecast for 2016 growth to 2.4 % this year, the same lethargic pace of last year and much slower than the 2.9 % tipped in January.
The Bank cited a slower-than-expected rebound in advanced economies, which was holding back developed countries, with world trade and investment both depressed.
It added that there were doubts that the aggressive monetary easing in developed countries, with negative interest rates in several, was firing up economic activity as intended.
US stocks pushed higher yesterday, boosted by gains in petroleum-linked shares as oil hit fresh 2016 highs, with the Dow adding 0.4% in early trading to climb above 18,000 points.