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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 September 2018

European stocks head for five-month low as global selloff continues

The Stoxx Europe 600 Index is set to post its worst week in two years, with all industry sectors in the red Friday

Numbers showing the negative change of the German DAX share price sit on a display screen inside the Frankfurt Stock Exchange. European stocks are set to report their worst performance in two years. [Photographer: Alex Kraus/Bloomberg]
Numbers showing the negative change of the German DAX share price sit on a display screen inside the Frankfurt Stock Exchange. European stocks are set to report their worst performance in two years. [Photographer: Alex Kraus/Bloomberg]

The sell-off in global stocks that briefly looked to have ended mid-week has come back, with European stocks heading for a five-month low after markets from the US to Asia tipped into declines exceeding 10 per cent from their January highs.

The Stoxx Europe 600 Index was set to post its worst week in two years, with all industry sectors in the red Friday. Japanese and South Korean indices earlier closed down about 2 per cent and Hong Kong’s slid about 3 per cent. China, where retail investors dominate, got hit particularly hard, with onshore gauges at one point exceeding 5 per cent losses on the day. US futures climbed, even as the US government entered a partial shutdown, and Treasuries yields rose.

Meanwhile, the dollar weakened against the euro and the pound, and strengthened against the yen. China set the yuan lower Friday after it weakened the most since 2015 yesterday.

Equity traders have yet to get comfortable with a jump up in benchmark US 10-year yields to the highest in four years, and worries over unwinding bets against volatility in stocks continue to cast a shadow over markets. The negative superlatives have piled up quickly: the S&P 500 has erased its gain for the year, closed at a two-month low and is on track for its worst week since 2011. The Dow plunged more than 1,000 points for the second time in four days. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index is set for the worst week since at least February 2016.

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Pressure on US stocks again came from the Treasury market, where another weak auction put gave bond bears ammunition, sending the 10-year yield as high as 2.88 per cent. Equity investors took the signal to mean interest rates will push higher, denting earnings and consumer-spending power. Over US$5 trillion has been wiped from global stock markets since Jan. 26, according to S&P Dow Jones Indices.

“There’s some big-money players that have really leveraged to the low rates forever, and they have to unwind those trades,” said Doug Cote, chief market strategist at Voya Investment Management. “They could be in full panic mode right now.”

Elsewhere, oil headed toward its worst week in almost a year as the global risk-asset rout further rankled investors already concerned over growing US supply. Gold steadied and industrial metals declined.

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