Stocks worldwide tumbled yesterday after weak economic data from China and Europe fanned concerns of a global economic slowdown and left investors fretting over the wider impact of a still-unresolved Sino-US trade dispute.

The MSCI All-Country World Index, which tracks stocks across 47 countries, was down over half a percent by afternoon in Europe. Futures indicated a weak session on Wall Street.

Euro zone business ended the year on a weak note, expanding at the slowest pace in over four years as new order growth all but dried up, hurt by trade tensions and violent protests in France, a survey showed.

Another survey showed French business activity plunged unexpectedly into contraction this month, retreating at the fastest pace in over four years in the face of violent anti-government protests.

Germany’s private sector expansion slowed to a four-year low, meanwhile, suggesting growth in Europe’s largest economy may be weak in the final quarter.

The data out of Europe added to weak readings from China, where November retail sales grew at the weakest pace since 2003 and industrial output rose the least in nearly three years, underlining risks to the economy as Beijing works to defuse a trade dispute with the United States.

Stock markets in Europe fell sharply, with Germany’s DAX index falling by as much as 1-1/2 percent. It was last down 0.8 per cent. The pan-European STOXX 600 index was last down 0.8 per cent, after falling over 1 per cent earlier.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan fell 1.5 per cent. Japan’s Nikkei, also dragged down by the country’s weak tankan sentiment index, dropped 2.0 per cent.

In the currency market, the euro was down 0.7 per cent after the weak PMIs, last changing hands at $1.1293.

Sterling fell more than half a percent to below $1.26 after Prime Minister Theresa May returned from a visit to Brussels, where she failed to win assurances from European Union leaders over her Brexit withdrawal agreement.

Oil prices fell after China reported slower economic growth, pointing to lower fuel demand in the world’s biggest oil importer, although market sentiment was supported by supply cuts agreed last week by major crude producers.

US crude futures fell 0.7 per cent to $52.22 per barrel and Brent crude slid 0.8 per cent to $60.94, after both gained more than 2.5 per cent on Thursday.

Cryptocurrency Bitcoin fell as low as $3,200, a fresh 15-month low.


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