Global stocks lower on growth concern

BEIJING, China – Global stock markets were mostly lower Wednesday after weaker Chinese manufacturing and a cut in Europe’s growth outlook fueled fears about the global economy.

KEEPING SCORE: In early trading, Britain’s FTSE 100 index was off 0.4 per cent at 6,159.14. France’s CAC 40 was off just under 0.1 per cent at 4,369.52 and Germany’s DAX was unchanged at 9,922.78. On Tuesday, the FTSE lost 11 per cent, the DAX fell 1.8 per cent and the CAC 40 shed 1.6 per cent. Wall Street looked set to decline, with futures for the Dow Jones industrial average and Standard & Poor’s 500 index off just under 0.1 per cent. On Tuesday, the Dow lost 0.8 per cent and the S&P fell 0.9 per cent. The Nasdaq composite shed 1.1 per cent.

ASIA’S DAY: Sydney’s S&P/ASX 200 fell 1.5 per cent to 5,271.10 and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index lost 0.7 per cent to 20,525.83. Seoul’s Kospi shed 0.5 per cent to 1,976.71 and India’s Sensex retreated 0.3 per cent to 25,156.02. The Shanghai Composite Index was unchanged at 2,991.27 and benchmarks in New Zealand, Singapore, Taiwan and Indonesia also fell. Japanese markets were closed for a holiday.

GLOBAL GROWTH: Weaker manufacturing in China and a cut in the eurozone’s growth forecast fueled concern about the global outlook. The latest data, combined with the Australian central bank’s decision to cut interest rates, “challenged expectations of growth recovery,” Citigroup said in a report.

ANALYST’S TAKE: “The wind in the sails of a global stock rally seems to have lessened lately,” Bernard Aw of IG said in a report. “Technical traders might say that some correction is necessary for the rally to continue, but I feel that the underlying factors are beginning to turn its tail.”

CHINA: A survey of manufacturers found activity weakened in April despite government efforts to stimulate the slowing economy. A prolonged slowdown could hurt prices of commodities, for which Chinese factories are major customers, and the economies that supply them. Worries about China were largely responsible for a bout of turmoil in global financial markets early this year.

WEAKER EUROPE: European officials trimmed their economic growth forecasts for the 19 countries that share the euro currency, citing an unpredictable global outlook marked by political uncertainty and weakness in emerging markets. The European Union forecast the eurozone economy would grow by 1.6 per cent this year, down by 0.1 point from its expectations three months ago. European Union Commissioner Pierre Moscovici said the recovery “remains uneven.”

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude added 7 cents to $43.72 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract plunged $1.13 on Tuesday to close at $43.65. Brent crude, used to price international oils, was off 3 cents at $44.93 in London. It tumbled 86 cents on Tuesday to $44.97.

CURRENCY: The dollar rose to 106.99 yen from Tuesday’s 106.68 yen. The euro edged down to $1.1482 from $1.1499.