London (AFP) – European stock markets weakened Friday as poor Chinese trade data sparked fresh concern about slowing economic growth in the Asian powerhouse nation.
London’s FTSE 100 index of top companies dipped 0.08 per cent to 5,846.37 points in morning deals, Frankfurt’s DAX 30 dropped 0.37 per cent to 6,939.68 and the Paris CAC 40 slipped 0.76 per cent at 3,430.51 points.
In foreign exchange deals, the European single currency declined to $1.2280 from $1.2301 in New York late Thursday.
“Today, market action in European equity markets is once again being dominated by new developments out of Asia, mainly China, especially with (the) economic data calendar in Europe remaining on the light side and the Olympic games still being in full swing,” said ETX Capital trader Markus Huber.
“Overnight, fairly disappointing trade and new loans data out of China has renewed worries that China’s slowdown might be more pronounced than originally feared with a hard landing not necessarily off the table just yet.”
Investor sentiment was partly boosted Thursday as Chinese inflation data lifted hopes that Beijing would loosen monetary policy further, while US trade figures turned out to be better than expected.
However, markets mostly fell Friday as weak Chinese trade data reinforced concerns of a slowdown in the world’s number two economy, while profit-taking added to selling pressure.
China’s exports grew just one per cent in July year-on-year to $176.9 billion, while imports rose 4.7 per cent to $151.8 billion, cutting the trade surplus to $25.1 billion from $31.7 billion in June.
Chinese retail sales, industrial output and inflation all weakened in July, indicating the export-driven economy was feeling the effects of Europe’s debt crisis lowering demand in a key market.
The figures will also add to calls for China’s leaders to further loosen monetary policy to kick start growth, which in the April-June quarter grew at its slowest pace since the height of the global crisis in 2008-2009.
“Worse-than-expected trade data, slowing industrial output growth and lower loans figures have put the focus firmly back on China today — with pressure increasing on their policy makers to introduce further stimulus measures,” said Rebecca O’Keeffe, head of investment at online brokerage Interactive Investor.
In Asian trade, Hong Kong shares fell 0.66 per cent and Shanghai shed 0.24 per cent. Tokyo lost 0.97 per cent and Sydney dipped 0.72 per cent.
Wall Street provided a weak overnight lead despite upbeat US jobs and trade data that supported a more positive outlook for the world’s number one economy.
US weekly new jobless claims fell to 361,000, the Labor Department said Thursday, in another sign that the jobs market has some moderate strength despite the second-quarter lull in hiring.
Meanwhile, the US trade deficit narrowed in June for the third straight month, with exports continuing to climb while imports eased.
Profit-taking added to Friday’s losses after global markets rallied this week following European Central Bank comments that gave investors confidence it will restart its sovereign bond-buying programme soon to help countries such as Spain and Italy.