By Roland Jackson (AFP) – Aug 12, 2010
LONDON — World stock markets slid on Thursday as many investors ditched risky assets on mounting fears over the global economic recovery, and the dollar wallowed close to a 15-year low point against the yen.
"Safe-haven trades are back in the ascendancy as investors increasingly fret about the outlook for the global economy," said Nick Stamenkovic, macro strategist at RIA Capital Markets in London.
A worldwide sell-off erupted on Wednesday after the US Federal Reserve and the Bank of England cut their outlooks this week, while investors also shunned risk on signs of slowing industrial growth and rising inflation in China.
A sharp widening of the US trade deficit added to the gloom, triggering fears of a double-dip recession.
"The global markets have taken a turn for the worse on the back of an intense escalation in risk aversion," added Joel Kruger, currency strategist at foreign exchange site Daily FX.
"Fears over the implications of a downbeat Federal reserve, and signs of a dramatic slowing in the Chinese economy, weigh heavily on investor sentiment.
"UK markets have suffered tremendously as a result, and we believe that the risks from here are for continued downside pressure in the local markets as broader global macro uncertainty takes hold."
The International Energy Agency, which has rare insights into oil market data revealing hidden forces at work in the economy, had warned on Wednesday that significant risks to economic recovery could be detected.
The dollar clawed its way back above 85 yen on Thursday, after striking a 15-year low at 84.73 yen on Wednesday as market players sought a safe-haven amid renewed jitters over the health of the global economy.
In late morning European deals on Thursday, Frankfurt shares shed 0.45 percent, London lost 0.08 percent and Paris retreated 0.41 percent.
Sentiment was partly hit by news that eurozone industrial production fell by 0.1 percent in June compared to the level in May.
Fresh doubts over the strength of the global economic recovery also sent a chill through Asian markets, after Wall Street had slumped by 2.5 percent overnight.
Both Shanghai and Sydney each dropped 1.23 percent in value, while Hong Kong dipped 0.89 percent and Tokyo fell 0.86 percent.
Interest rates on European sovereign bond markets firmed slightly after yields on the benchmark German and French debt bonds fell to historic low points late on Wednesday on a risk-aversion rush into safe assets.
When demand pushes up the price of government bonds, the fixed interest carried by the bonds automatically falls as a percentage of the new price.
The rate on German 10-year bonds edged up to 2.442 percent from 2.427 percent and the French yield to 2.733 percent from 2.715 percent.
The dollar rebounded somewhat after a "verbal intervention" from Japanese leaders, who voiced concerns over the yen's strength, dealers said.
Prime Minister Naoto Kan said on Thursday that the yen's rise was "rapid" and agreed with his right-hand man and Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshito Sengoku to follow the situation, Japanese reports said.
Investors were closely watching whether Japanese authorities will act for the first time since 2004 to stem the yen's strength.
The euro fetched 1.2860 dollars, down from 1.2868 in New York late on Wednesday, when the single currency had tumbled to the lowest level since late July.
Wall Street had nosedived on Wednesday as data showing the US trade gap had widened sharply in June -- to the highest level in 20 months on the back of rising imports.
The markets' grim assessment was also coloured by the downbeat view taken by the Fed on Tuesday, which warned that recovery in the world's largest economy was slowing and opted for further stimulus measures.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average tumbled 2.49 percent to end at 10,378.83 points on Wednesday, posting its the worst percentage drop in nearly a month.
The dollar also hit a 15-year low point against the yen on Wednesday after the Fed promised fresh measures to help stimulate the faltering US economy.
The strong yen poses a threat to the export sector driving Japan's own fragile economic rebound, with companies facing huge hits to overseas profits when repatriated.
Japanese factory output has slowed recently amid the global uncertainty, while data on Wednesday saw much lower than expected orders for machinery in a sign of cautious capital spending.
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