Weak Chinese data weighs on markets

Filed under: Daily News | Tags:, ,

U.S. and European stocks slipped Friday on weak Chinese economic data and persistent tensions in eurozone debt markets, while Asian markets were buoyed by a botched North Korean missile test.

Concerns about the prospects for global growth remained the market focus after official data in China showed its economy grew at an 8.1 percent pace in January-March, its slowest in nearly three years.

Although Asian investors brushed off the news on hopes the country would provide more economic stimulus, European markets gave it more weight. As the world’s largest exporter, China is a bellwhether for global economic growth, which European countries desperately need to heal their public finances.

France’s CAC-40 closed down 2.47 percent to 3,189, while Germany’s DAX shed 2.36 percent to 6,583. The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares fell 1.03 percent to 5,651. Meanwhile, Spain’s IBEX lost 3.58 percent to 7,250 on news that the country’s banks had borrowed €316 billion from the European Central Bank in March.

U.S. stocks also fell on opening, with the Dow Jones industrial average down 70 points at 12,916. The broader Standard & Poor’s 500 index was down 10 points, at 1,377.

“Unimpressive macro newsflow continued, which has kept concerns about global economic prospects at the forefront of the market’s mindset,” Credit Agricole analysts said.

Helping to weigh on European stocks was continued pressure in bond markets, with yields on Spanish debt inching higher, a sign of investor unease over the country’s financial future.

In Asia, markets mostly closed higher as traders were reassured by news that a North Korean rocket exploded soon after takeoff. South Korea’s Kospi jumped 1.1 percent to 2,008.91.

Mainland Chinese shares were higher as regional investors saw the GDP figures as proof that the economy would avoid a brusk slowdown and that authorities might clear further measures to boost growth. The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index edged up 0.3 percent to 2,359.16. The smaller Shenzhen Composite Index added 0.6 percent to 950.91.

In currency markets, the euro fell 0.83 percent to $1.3076 and the dollar inched up to 81.05 Japanese yen.

Concerns persist that high energy prices — driven in part by unrest in the Middle East — could weigh on any economic recovery. Benchmark oil was down 50 cents to $103.14 in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.