EconomyEuropean shares steady after steepest slide for global stocks...

European shares steady after steepest slide for global stocks since 2020

European stocks recovered some of their losses on Tuesday after economic growth fears drove the steepest drop for global equities since June 2020.

The regional Stoxx 600 gauge rose 0.8 per cent, having dropped 2.9 per cent on Monday. London’s FTSE 100 added 0.7 per cent, with buyout group Melrose Industries, industrial software company Aveva and tobacco company Imperial Brands among the top 10 risers.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index fell 1.8 per cent, having opened sharply lower after a holiday. Chinese technology groups listed in the territory recorded some of the biggest declines, with the Hang Seng Tech index declining 3.2 per cent.

Tuesday’s moves came after steep declines for shares the day before, with the FTSE All-World index down 3 per cent — hitting its lowest level in more than a year. The US’s broad S&P 500 gauge closed down 3.2 per cent and the tech-focused Nasdaq Composite lost 4.3 per cent.

The losses followed bleak Chinese export data, which showed growth had slowed sharply last month as tough coronavirus lockdowns continued to drag on the world’s second-largest economy. Pointing to a broader pullback in growth, reports last week indicated slowdowns in the German and French manufacturing sectors.

The weak data compounded existing concerns over the economic outlook as central banks moved to tighten monetary policy aggressively to curb surging inflation. The US Federal Reserve last Wednesday raised interest rates by half a percentage point — the biggest rise in more than a decade. The Bank of England also lifted borrowing costs, as did the central banks of Australia and India.

Futures contracts tracking the S&P and the concentrated Nasdaq 100 gauges showed early signs of recovery on Tuesday, up 0.7 per cent and 1.3 per cent respectively. Still, signalling expectations of further swings to come, the Vix index — known as Wall Street’s “fear gauge” — registered a reading of 33, well above its long-term average of 20.

New-York based investment house BlackRock had last week reversed its bullish stance on China, downgrading its “modest overweight” rating on the country’s stocks and bonds to neutral over the deteriorating economic outlook — despite promises of support from Beijing last month.

“We see a growing geopolitical concern over Beijing’s ties to Russia. This means foreign investors could face more pressure to avoid Chinese assets for regulatory or other reasons,” said the BlackRock Investment Institute, an internal research unit led by Jean Boivin.

“Lockdowns are set to curtail economic activity. China’s policymakers have heralded easing to prevent a growth slowdown — but have yet to fully act.”

The world’s largest asset manager had been expanding its presence in China, and its research unit previously recommended investors boost exposure to the country by as much as three times.

In government debt markets, the yield on the 10-year US Treasury note — seen as a proxy for borrowing costs worldwide — fell 0.04 percentage points to 3.04 per cent, having rallied late in the previous session as traders rushed to haven assets.

Meanwhile, Bitcoin fell below $30,000 for the first time since July 2021 as the world’s largest cryptocurrency by market capitalisation was hit by investors moving away from riskier assets.

This story has been amended to clarify that the fall in global equities, rather than Wall Street stocks, on Monday was the steepest since 2020.

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