SEOUL, South Korea – Global stock markets were lower Friday as investors marked down technology stocks and a drop in U.S. jobless claims failed to boost investor confidence.
European markets opened weaker, with Britain’s FTSE 100 losing 1 per cent to 6,575.83. Germany’s DAX fell 1.2 per cent to 9,338.48 and France’s CAC-40 shed 1 per cent to 4,369.26.
Wall Street looked set for lacklustre trading. Dow and S&P 500 futures were both little changed.
The falls in Europe were foreshadowed by a weak performance in Asian markets. Investors knocked down Internet and technology companies after the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite had its worst day since 2011.
The jitters over the high valuations of technology companies in the U.S. and then in Asia overshadowed other upbeat economic reports. The Labor Department said Thursday that the number of people seeking U.S. unemployment benefits dropped to the lowest level in almost seven years, suggesting improvement in the U.S. labour market.
Next week’s first quarter economic growth data from China will be the key indicator investors are looking for as it could give hints about further stimulus announcements from Beijing, said Ric Spooner, chief market analyst at CMC Markets in a commentary.
Earlier in Asia, Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 lost 2.4 per cent to close at 13,960.05 and South Korea’s Kospi slipped 0.6 per cent to 1,997.44. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng finished 0.8 per cent lower at 23,003.64 and China’s Shanghai Composite shed 0.2 per cent to 2,130.54.
Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 dipped 1 per cent to 5,428.60. Stocks in Taiwan and Southeast Asia also lost ground with Indonesia being the only bright spot.
Internet and related stocks took the biggest hit from the sell-off as investors thought they were over-valued.
Chinese Internet giant Tencent plunged 6.8 per cent and Japanese mobile service operator SoftBank Corp. sank 3.8 per cent. South Korean Internet company Naver Corp., which owns the Line messenger app, fell 3.1 per cent.
In energy markets, benchmark U.S. crude for May delivery was down 28 cents at $103.12 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 20 cents to $103.40 on Thursday.
In currencies, the euro strengthened to $1.3889 from $1.3886 late Thursday. The dollar rose to 101.72 yen from 101.42 yen.