Slump in oil prices and China data weighs on global stocks

Data from China added to the downward pressure, showing factory-gate inflation slowed for the fourth month in October on cooling domestic demand and manufacturing activity. — Reuters pic
Data from China added to the downward pressure, showing factory-gate inflation slowed for the fourth month in October on cooling domestic demand and manufacturing activity. — Reuters pic

NEW YORK, Nov 10 — Stocks around the globe suffered their biggest drop in two weeks yesterday as weak Chinese economic data sapped demand for equities while oil prices weakened again.

US stocks were broadly lower, with energy shares falling more than 1 per cent as benchmark Brent crude oil saw a six-month low and US crude fell below US$60 (RM250) for the first time since March.

Data from China added to the downward pressure, showing factory-gate inflation slowed for the fourth month in October on cooling domestic demand and manufacturing activity.

Bad debts at Chinese brokers and banks are also causing concern.

In the US, producer prices rose more than expected in October and at their fastest pace in six years, but measures of underlying price pressure cooled, bolstering the view that the US central bank is not facing a resurgence in inflation.

European shares dipped as mining and oil stocks sold off, but they managed to end the week with a small gain.

“Oil is spooking the market. If oil prices are going to go lower that’s another sign that the global economy is going to slow its growth,” said Chris Zaccarelli, chief investment officer at Independent Advisor Alliance in Charlotte, North Carolina. “It looks like a slow (stocks) sell off. All day long it’s been drifting lower.”

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 201.92 points, or 0.77 per cent, to 25,989.3, the S&P 500 lost 25.82 points, or 0.92 per cent, to 2,781.01 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 123.98 points, or 1.65 per cent, to 7,406.90.

Equities snapped a streak of seven straight days of gains on Thursday after the US Federal Reserve held interest rates steady but appeared to remain on track to raise its policy interest rate next month.

The Federal Reserve decision disappointed some investors who had hoped that the sharp share price falls during what has been called “Red October” might have encouraged the US central bank to take a more dovish approach toward monetary policy.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index lost 0.37 per cent and MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe shed 1.08 per cent.

The US dollar, which had weakened sharply after Tuesday’s US mid-term elections, was up for a second straight day and on track for a fourth straight week of gains.

Further dollar gains can pose headwinds for risky assets as that translates into tightening financial conditions as most emerging market economies borrow in dollars. A strong dollar could also hurt earnings of multinational US corporations.

The dollar index rose 0.19 per cent, with the euro down 0.26 per cent to US$1.1333.

The equity weakness pushed bond yields lower. Benchmark 10-year notes last rose 12/32 in price to yield 3.1875 per cent, from 3.232 per cent late on Thursday.

Oil prices fell to multi-month lows as global supply increased and investors worried about the possibility of slowing fuel demand, putting US crude on track for the longest stretch of daily declines since 1984.

US West Texas Intermediate crude settled down 0.79 per cent at US$60.19 per barrel and Brent settled at US$70.18, down 0.67 per cent on the day. — Reuters

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