Fresh evidence of China’s economic slowdown sent world stock markets tumbling yesterday, with Europe and the US following Asia sharply lower in a gloomy start to 2016.
In Europe, Frankfurt posted the heaviest losses, diving 4.3% at 10,283.44 points, and Paris shed 2.5% at 4,522.45 points.
London stocks lost 2.4% at 6,093.43 points with China-exposed mining companies falling the heaviest.
Wall Street was also sharply lower in midday trading, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average down over 2%.
Shanghai equities had plunged 7%, leading an Asian meltdown, as more weak factory data fanned fears about the health of the world’s second biggest economy.
“It hasn’t been a textbook start for 2016. It’s in fact been one of the worst first trading days on record,” said market analyst Jasper Lawler at CMC Markets UK.
“Markets have been swept up in a renewed fear that China’s economic slowdown is picking up speed after surprisingly weak manufacturing data,” he added.
London’s top fallers were mining giants Anglo American, which tanked 7.2%, and Glencore which dropped 5.8%, on demand fears in leading commodity consumer China.
Global markets were also spooked over the flare-up in tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia, as investors returned to their desks after the Christmas and year-end holidays.
World oil prices edged higher as key crude exporter Saudi Arabia cut diplomatic ties with fellow Opec member Iran after a row.
“On the first trading day of 2016, the markets have got off to a shocking start,” added analyst Manoj Ladwa at brokerage TJM Partners.
“The problems in the Middle East have taken a turn for the worse with the Saudi-Iran stand-off. And China has only added to the negative sentiment as their economy shows further signs of slowing,” he told AFP.
Authorities in China suspended trading on its stock markets in the early afternoon after shares collapsed.
The drop in the CSI300 index — which covers the Shanghai and Shenzhen bourses — for the first time triggered an automatic early closure under a “circuit breaker” mechanism to curb volatility, after an earlier 15-minute trading halt failed to stem the declines.
Dealers began selling immediately after data from official and private surveys of manufacturing showed activity shrinking in December. The reports are the latest to highlight weakness in the economy, which is expected to have grown in 2015 at its slowest pace in a quarter of a century.
Adding to the selling is the looming expiration of measures brought in to curb last year’s share slump.
Investors, meanwhile, fled to safe investments such as the US dollar and yen, sending stocks and emerging-market currencies falling.
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