January 2016

So far, 2016 has seen some dramatic falls already, but Bank of Japan’s negative interest rates put some hope back into the global economy. The yen fell and markets reacted positively to the news of more support from a major central bank…

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Global markets end tumultuous month on a high” was written by Justin McCurry, Dominic Rushe and Katie Allen, for The Guardian on Friday 29th January 2016 20.24 UTC

Global markets have ended a difficult month on a stronger note after the Bank of Japan stepped in to boost its economy with negative interest rates.

However, weak economic growth figures in the US underscored the scale of a global slowdown that has rattled investors.

Policymakers at Japan’s central bank stunned markets with a narrow vote to impose a 0.1% fee on deposits left with the Bank of Japan (BoJ) – in effect a negative interest rate. The central bank was spurred into action as volatile markets, flagging global growth and a downturn in China threatened major economies around the world.

In the US, news that the economy barely grew in the final three months of 2015 prompted speculation that its central bank would rein in plans to raise interest rates this year, having tightened borrowing costs for the first time in almost a decade in December. GDP rose at an anaemic annual rate of 0.7% as consumers and businesses cut back on spending, while US exports were hurt by weaker overseas markets.

Rob Carnell, economist at ING Financial Markets, said: “All in all, these GDP data support the sense given by recent monthly numbers that the US economy lost momentum into the end of 2015. We are struggling to see how this story is reversed in the coming quarters.”

Stock market investors were cheered by the prospect of US interest rates rising at a slower pace and by the Japanese move, which followed the similarly aggressive precedent set by the European Central Bank (ECB) in June 2014. The negative rate is designed to encourage commercial banks to use excess reserves – which they normally keep with the central bank – to lend to businesses instead.

The radical intervention provided an immediate boost to stock markets around the world after a dramatic start to the year that saw trillions of dollars wiped off their value in a matter of days. On Friday, the FTSE 100 in London closed up 2.6% at 6,084, to be back within a whisker of its starting level for 2016 of 6,242. That rise was mirrored around European bourses and followed a rally in Asian stock markets, where Japan’s Nikkei jumped 2.8% to a two-week high. At the time of the London close, Wall Street was also higher, with the Dow Jones industrial average up 1.7%.

Chinese shares also rallied following the Japanese rate move but still suffered their biggest monthly fall for seven years. The Shanghai Composite Index has lost 22.6% since the start of the year.

The surprise negative rates decision came just days after the BoJ’s governor, Haruhiko Kuroda, suggested he had dismissed any drastic easing measures to boost business confidence.

On Friday, the bank said it had not ruled out a further cut. “The BoJ will cut the interest rate further into negative territory if judged as necessary,” it said in a statement.

It said the move was intended to lessen the risk to Japanese business confidence from turbulence in the global economy, a week after data showed the Chinese economy had grown at its slowest pace for a quarter of a century in 2015.

The ECB held back from injecting more electronic cash into markets at its meeting this month but it too fired up share prices with a promise to consider more action in March.

The prospect of central banks pumping more stimulus into a struggling global economy has also helped stabilise oil prices. Brent crude, which earlier in January hit a 13-year low below $28 a barrel, stood at about $33.86 on Friday. It is still down 30% from a year ago.

Highlighting global unease about the global outlook following China’s slowdown, gold prices have gained almost 5% in January.

Friday’s estimate of US GDP from the Commerce Department was less than half the 2% annual growth rate in the third quarter and was the weakest showing since a severe winter reduced growth to a 0.6% annual rate in the first quarter of 2015.

Economists cautioned that this early estimate could yet be revised but said it still pointed to global headwinds buffeting the world’s biggest economy and suggested the US Federal Reserve would not go ahead with all four interest rate rises slated for this year. Some said the latest signs of a US slowdown left the US central bank looking unwise after December’s rate rise.

“The GDP growth slowdown sheds a rather critical light on the Fed’s decision to raise interest rates in December,” said Nina Skero, economist at the Centre for Economics and Business Research.

“For the sake of credibility, it is unlikely that the Fed will reverse its December decision, but rates are likely to stay at their current level until 2017.”

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USA 

Jan. 21, 2016 (Econoday) – There were no surprises in today’s ECB announcement. The central bank’s first policy meeting of the year duly concluded with no change in any of its key interest rates meaning that the benchmark refi rate stays at 0.05 percent, the deposit rate at minus 0.30 percent and the marginal lending rate at 0.30 percent.

Having only just eased in December, albeit by less than financial markets were hoping, additional action so soon would have done nothing to enhance the monetary authority’s credibility. In any event, the ECB can justifiably say that it needs time to assess the full impact of last month’s measures.

Having been accused of misleading investors in December by encouraging overly aggressive easing expectations, Draghi was no doubt keen to be as transparent as possible in his post-meeting comments. To this end, he sounded dovish and emphasised increased downside risks to the Eurozone stemming from rising uncertainty about the outlook for emerging market economies, heightened volatility in the financial and commodity markets and increased geopolitical instability. Against this backdrop the outlook for inflation is now seen to be significantly lower than anticipated in early December.

The ECB’s next meeting is on 10th March and while a new move on QE (or rates) then also seems rather early at this stage, should the economy slow and inflation continue to move the wrong way, the central bank might feel obliged to act. Indeed, updated staff economic forecasts will be available that month and Draghi emphasised today the importance of their role in shaping the policy outcome. Financial markets will definitely be scrutinising the economic data all the more closely now and any signs of renewed weakness will boost speculation about yet another round of easing initiatives. Recall that some members already wanted a 20 basis point cut in the deposit rate last month rather than the 10 basis point reduction that was actually delivered.

The bottom line is that the ECB has at least alerted investors to the possibility of a looser monetary stance in March. The danger is that, as in December, expectations get out of hand again but, in the interim the ECB chief’s comments today should put some fresh downside pressure on the euro. And, if realised, this would certainly not displease a central bank that was clearly unhappy with the way in which the euro responded to the December policy announcement.

Jan. 20, 2016 (Econoday) – The Bank of Canada opted to leave key interest rates unchanged at today’s monetary policy announcement. The target for the benchmark overnight rate stays at 0.5 percent, at least until the bank’s next meeting in March.

On balance financial markets were just about looking for a 25 basis point cut but it was always going to be a very close call.

The decision not to pull the trigger on rates just yet is unlikely to have been taken easily. As the central bank’s newly updated Monetary Policy Report (MPR) makes clear, the BoC has become more cautious about economic recovery at home, even if it notes few surprises in global activity. Hence, real GDP growth is now put at only 1 ½ percent this year, down from the 2 percent call made in October. The 2017 forecast is unchanged at 2 ½ percent.

Inflation (all but inevitably) is shown at near-2 percent (the target mid-point) by the end of the projection horizon after following a volatile profile due to base effects caused by the instability of the energy markets. Core inflation is expected to hold close to 2 percent throughout the projection period. However, the new MPR acknowledges increasing excess capacity through 2015 alongside an absence of wages pressures. If so, unless the effects of C$ depreciation feed through significantly, the risk is that inflation undershoots official expectations.

Still, the overall impression is that the BoC is not in any great hurry to cut rates again and this may give the beleaguered C$ a temporary reprieve. Nonetheless, today’s decision to maintain the policy status quo is unlikely to prevent speculation about a cut moving to the next meeting on 9th March. If so, any bounce in the local currency will likely be seen as a fresh selling opportunity unless oil prices manage a surprising and sustainable rebound.

 

Jan. 8, 2016 (Allthingsforex.com) – The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today that total nonfarm payroll employment in the word’s largest economy rose by 292,000 in December from upwardly-revised 252,000 in November, and the unemployment rate was unchanged at 5.0 percent.

Manufacturing employment changed little in December, though its nondurable goods component added 14,000 jobs. In 2015, manufacturing employment was little changed (+30,000), following strong growth in 2014 (+215,000).

Employment in other major industries, including wholesale trade, retail trade, financial activities, and government, changed little over the month. The average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls was unchanged at 34.5 hours in December.

The manufacturing workweek edged down by 0.1 hour to 40.6 hours, and factory overtime edged up by 0.1 hour to 3.3 hours. The average workweek for production and nonsupervisory employees on private nonfarm payrolls was unchanged at 33.7 hours.

In December, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls, at $25.24, changed little (-1 cent), following an increase of 5 cents in November. Over the year, average hourly earnings have risen by 2.5 percent. In December, average hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees, at $21.22, changed little (+2 cents).

The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for October was revised from +298,000 to +307,000, and the change for November was revised from +211,000 to +252,000. With these revisions, employment gains in October and November combined were 50,000 higher than previously reported. Over the past 3 months, job gains have averaged 284,000 per month.

The Employment Situation for January is scheduled to be released on Friday, February 5, 2016, at 8:30 a.m. (EST).

 

 

 

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Wall Street joins market selloff as £40bn is wiped off FTSE 100 – live updates” was written by Graeme Wearden, for theguardian.com on Thursday 7th January 2016 14.50 UTC

More reaction:

Updated

Here’s a reminder of how the Chinese circuit breaker kicked into action today, triggering the shortest trading session ever (just 29 minutes!)

Chinese stock market

China suspends stock market breaker rule – reports

Breaking news from China… the stock market regulator has apparently announced that it WILL suspend its stock market breaker rule.

A sensible decision, as the rule has been tested and found wanting this week.

Ouch. The Dow Jones industrial average has shed almost 300 points, or 1.7%.

Every share is in the red:

Wall Street tumbles at the open

Open of Wall Street

Hold onto your tin hats, folks.

The New York opening bell is ringing, and shares are tumbling sharply.

The Dow Jones industrial average has lost 1.25%, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq dropped over 2%.

It will take a few minutes for Wall Street to calm down. But the news that the Chinese stock market was suspended after just 30 minutes earlier today is clearly alarming investors.

Updated

Commodity prices are hitting new five-year lows, thanks to economic growth fears and the stronger dollar.

Palladium is down 5% at $482 per ounce, its lowest level since August 2010. Zinc has hit a six-year low, and copper is also down.

Could Beijing authorities ditch their circuit-breaker rule, following this week’s turmoil?

Something certainly needs to be done.

We saw today that the prospect of an immediate daily suspension if the market drops too much actually triggered a swift selloff (as investors dashed to get out while they can).

The 5% trigger was hit after just 14 minute, followed by the 7% time-out once trading resumed. That’s not a recipe for calm, rational trading.

Updated

Britain’s FTSE 100 is currently down 2.5%, or 152 points — on track to hit a three-week low.

If it falls much further, it would threaten the lows of last August, the last time China triggered a stock market rout:

The Footsie over the last 6 months
The Footsie over the last 6 months Photograph: Thomson Reuters

The US stock market is on track to hit a new three-month low, when trading begins in 40 minutes time:

US stock market futures
US stock market futures Photograph: Bloomberg TV

The China crisis is partly caused by Beijing’s policy of pegging its currency against the US dollar, argues economist Sean Richards.

A deeper analysis of the Chinese situation shows us that its own financial instabilities have been exacerbated by the strong US Dollar.

This has been made worse by its decision to set its exchange-rate against it. Thus rather than drifting lower like virtually everyone else instead the pressure builds up, which it has tried to resist, but even with its sizeable currency reserves it has to give way every now and then. This then adds to the pressure as everybody concentrates on the decline in the reserves rather than the large amount left.

Also I suspect that those in the “know” have been trying to get out of the Yuan before it falls further which only makes things worse.

Got it in one…

China’s international competitors will fear that Beijing is triggering a currency war, by allowing the yuan to hit a five-year low against the US dollar today.

Andy Yu, senior economist at MNI Indicators, says other emerging market currencies will probably also weaken in response (reminder, they’ve already weakened this year).

“A weaker yuan is a concern for emerging markets that compete directly with China in exports. The immediate upshot is that currencies in countries including South Korea, Thailand, the Philippines and Taiwan will continue to adjust downwards in response to yuan moves.

That would push up debt repayments for countries who have borrowed in US dollars. But encouragingly, Yu reckons emerging markets have the firepower to ride out the crisis:

On current evidence the risk of a full blown emerging markets crisis looks less likely with emerging economies having built up larger foreign exchange reserves and put in place far better external debt management. Still the situation bears close scrutiny and alongside continued Fed tightening this year will put pressure on emerging markets’ currencies over 2016.”

Updated

It’s a bad day for stock market bulls…..

A styrofoam bull figure lies on its side in front of DAX board at Frankfurt’s stock exchange<br />A styrofoam bull figure lies on its side on a counter in front of the German share price index DAX board at Frankfurt’s stock exchange in Frankfurt, Germany January 7, 2016. European shares fell sharply on Thursday after China accelerated the depreciation of the yuan, sending currencies across the region reeling and domestic stock markets tumbling. Germany’s DAX dropped 3.6 percent, while Britain’s FTSE 100 weakened by 2.7 percent. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach” width=”1000″ height=”600″ class=”gu-image” /><br />
<figcaption> <span class=A styrofoam bull figure lies on its side in front of DAX board at Frankfurt’s stock exchange today. Photograph: Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters

The Economist reckons China could trigger a repeat of the 1998 Asian crisis, rather than the 2008 vintage which George Soros fears.

Here’s its logic:

If China devalues, then other Asian nations will come under pressure to follow suit, for fear of losing competitive position. That will trigger worries about those Asian companies that have borrowed in dollars. there could be banking issues in Asia.

This is a potentially worrying scenario. Whether 2008 is the right parallel is another matter. If the bearish case does come true, then it sounds more like 1998 when a round of Asian devaluations was triggered by the realisation that growth had been fuelled by speculation. Western economies did manage to overcome that crisis. The real worry is that emerging countries are a lot more important for the global economy than they were back then.

More here: Is this really 2008 all over again?

Soros: It’s 2008 all over again

Hungarian-born US magnate and philanthropist George Soros attends an economic forum in Colombo on January 7, 2016. Sri Lankas new government is trying to woo investors after a year in office. AFP PHOTO / LAKRUWAN WANNIARACHCHILAKRUWAN WANNIARACHCHI/AFP/Getty Images
George Soros attending an economic forum in Colombo, Sri Lanka, today. Photograph: Lakruwan Wanniarachchi/AFP/Getty Images

Investor-turned-philanthropist George Soros has contributed to the gloom today, by claiming that we could face a repeat of the turmoil we experienced in 2008.

Soros, who famously beat the Bank of England on Black Wednesday, told an audience in Sri Lanka that the current situation reminded him of the financial crisis seven years ago.

He said:

“China has a major adjustment problem. I would say it amounts to a crisis.

When I look at the financial markets there is a serious challenge which reminds me of the crisis we had in 2008.”

Alarming stuff. However, before you sell everything, it’s worth remembering that Soros has previous form here. In 2011, he declared that the eurozone debt crisis was “more serious” than the 08 crash.

European policymakers managed to avoid a Lehman Brothers-style moment, although obviously Greece’s problems aren’t fixed. So Soros’s words are worth taking seriously…

Updated

Some Chinese companies could be forced into default if Beijing continues to devalue the yuan.

So argues Danae Kyriakopoulou, senior economist at the Centre for Economics and Business Research. She warns:

Many Chinese corporates have taken on a lot of debt, some of it dollar-denominated. This exposure creates an important risk as the People’s Bank of China PBOC continues to allow the yuan to weaken.

It is not far-fetched at this stage to draw comparisons with the Asian currency crises of 1998 that occurred as economies with high levels of dollar-denominated debts were forced to devalue. This, together with the commitment by the Chinese leadership to give market forces a greater say may mean that we will see many more corporate defaults in China this year.

As covered earlier, Beijing has already spent half a trillion dollars propping up the yuan this year. It still has more than $3trn left to help engineer an ‘orderly’ devaluation….

£40bn wiped off FTSE 100 this morning

What. A. Morning.

Nearly four hours after trading began, the FTSE 100 is still deep in the red as the latest crash in China spooks markets around the globe.

The blue-chip index is currently down 2.65% or 160 points at 5912, its lowest level since mid December.

That, by my calculations, wipes more than £40bn off the value of the 100 companies on the Footsie. A blow that will be shared by City traders, pension funds and small investors alike.

Mining companies continue to suffer, on fears that the crisis in China will cause serious harm to the global economy. Anglo American, which produces iron ore, copper, nickel and coal, has slumped to another record low.

Fund manager Aberdeen Asset Management is also being hit hard; it manages tens of billions of assets in emerging markets and in Asia.

The biggest fallers on the FTSE 100 today
The biggest fallers on the FTSE 100 today Photograph: Thomson Reuters

The news that the yuan hit a five-year low today – effectively a devaluation by Beijing – is also worrying investors.

Jasper Lawler, analyst at CMC Markets, says:

UK and European stocks are extending declines in one of the worst opening weeks for the year for stock markets in recent memory. China is at the top of a dizzying list of concerns for markets.

And with oil hitting a fresh 11-year low, and the pound at its weakest since 2010, there’s plenty for investors to fret about.

Connor Campbell of Spreadex sums up the mood:

There have been painfully few chinks of light this morning, the markets covered in an almost impenetrable cloud of bearish fog.

Updated

There are anxious faces on the Frankfurt stock market, as traders watched shares slide.

The DAX index fell by over 3% this morning, dropping through the 10,000 point mark for the first time since October.

A trader works in front of a board displaying the chart of Germany’s share index DAX at the stock exchange in Frankfurt am Main.
Stock exchange in Frankfurt - Dax drops below 10,000<br />07 Jan 2016, Rhineland, Germany — Traders look at their screens on the trading floor at the stock exchange in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, 07 January 2016. China’s ongoing stocks slump is continuing to affect the German stock market. Germany’s DAX stock market index dropped below 10,000 points. Photo: FRANK RUMPENHORST/dpa — Image by © Frank Rumpenhorst/dpa/Corbis” width=”1000″ height=”668″ class=”gu-image” /> </figure>
<p>German exporters such as <strong>BMW</strong>, <strong>Daimler</strong>, <strong>Volkswagen</strong> and <strong>ThyssenKrupp</strong> led the selloff, all falling by around 4%. They are all vulnerable to a sharp slowdown in the Chinese economy.</p>
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Wall Street is expected to join the selloff when trading begins in three and a half-hours.

The futures market suggest the Dow Jones industrial average will tumble by 2.5%, while the Nasdaq is heading for a 3.3% plunge.

The pound appears to be suffering from the uncertainty over Britain’s membership of the EU.

Andy Scott, economist at currency firm HiFX, reckons Brexit risks are compounding the impact of the China crisis on the UK currency.

He explains:

Sterling’s decline against a rising US Dollar has been accelerated by the risk-off mode this week that has investors seeking refuge in safe haven currencies including the US Dollar, Japanese Yen and the Swiss Franc. That can almost entirely be attributed to the Chinese central bank allowing its currency to weaken to its lowest level against the dollar in almost five years, fuelling speculation that the economy is slowing faster than official figures suggest.

“Concerns over a Brexit and reduced bets that the Bank of England will hike rates any time soon have also weighed on Sterling.

“The Bank of England and the Chancellor have been quite vocal about risks facing the UK economy this year and the early signs are that China’s economy is weakening further, putting a bigger question mark over global growth

And that’s why the pound is at a five and a half-year low of $1.456 today, as this chart shows:

Pound vs dollar over the last decade
Pound vs dollar over the last decade Photograph: Thomson Reuters


Veteran analyst David Buik, who has seen a few crashes in his time, says there is an “acrid stench of fear” in the City and Canary Wharf.

He adds:

The start to the year has been metaphorical carnage as far as equities are concerned. China has set the agenda with two gargantuan falls this year, aided and abetted by oil falling to its lowest level in 12 years (-4% today) suggesting that investors are not happy campers!

Updated

Panda bear market, anyone?

We have a glimmer of good news – Europe’s unemployment crisis has eased a little.

The eurozone’s jobless rate dipped to 10.5% in November 2011, according to eurostat, which is the lowest since October 2011.

That still leaves 16.924 million people out of work in the euro area, and 22.159 million in the wider European Union.

So, still too high – and at risk of rising again if the global economy hits serious problems again….

China isn’t the only developing economy to make a bad start to 2016.

A swath of emerging market currencies have weakened since the start of the year, as investors fear that their economies will falter.

Greece’s stock market is sharing the pain:

City workers crossing the Millennium footbridge at dawn.
City workers crossing the Millennium footbridge at dawn today Photograph: Toby Melville/Reuters

City traders may have now dried off after the early morning deluge, but their mood isn’t any sunnier.

Brenda Kelly of London Capital Markets says:

Not unlike the weather in London today, it never rains but it pours. While it’s said that the darkest hour is often before the dawn, nobody appears brave enough to involve themselves in risk assets this morning.

She explains how the Chinese market suspension, the slump in crude oil, and the big drop in China’s foreign exchange reserves are all causing alarm:

The drop in oil prices and China’s Shanghai Composite once again triggering circuit breakers sees major European indexes under pressure while government bonds strengthen across the board.

Trading in China stopped after 29 minutes amid the Shanghai’s Composite tumbled by 7.04%. Forex reserves in China are also lower than what were expected. At the end of December they stood at $3.33 trillion and given that the IMF has recently said that $2.6T is required to maintain the yuan fix, this worse than expected depletion is only bolstering negativity towards the world’s second biggest economy.

A reminder of what triggered today’s rout:

Record fall in China’s foreign exchange reserves

As if there wasn’t already enough to worry about, China has revealed a record drop in its foreign exchange reserves.

New data from the People’s Bank of China show that its FX reserves shrank by $107bn in December – the biggest monthly drop on record.

It suggests that China was forced to use more firepower supporting the yuan last month, as capital flows out of the Chinese economy:

Pound hits five-year low against the dollar

Sterling has just hit its lowest level against the US dollar since the middle of 2010.

The pound has lost half a cent against the greenback today, hitting $1.4561. That’s a five and a half-year low, taking us back to the uncertain times after the 2010 general election.

Worried traders are piling money into the relative safety of the dollar.

As this chart shows, the pound looks stronger against a basket of currencies:

China’s new ‘circuit breaker’ is meant to avoid market volatility. It clearly doesn’t work.

As it stands, if the market falls 5% then trading is suspended for everyone to calm down. It then reopens, allowing investors to recover their nerve.

But as we saw today, a second wave of selling can quickly push the market down by 7% – which is the signal to end trading for the day.

Mark Dampier, head of investment Research at Hargreaves Lansdown, says authorities need to accept that shares are simply overvalued:

Some amazing events on the Chinese stock markets overnight with trading halted for the second time in a week, the second time this year after just 870 seconds of trading…..

Clearly the circuit breaker is having the opposite affect to what is intended and is making things worse. It also stops the market having any chance of bouncing. Had it been introduced during 2015, it would have been triggered 20 times.

The system doesn’t work and until it is withdrawn or modified we can expect to see further use and perhaps shorter trading periods than we saw last night.

The interference by the authorities is simply delaying the inevitable. The market needs to find its own level so we will see more volatility in global markets until it does.

Today’s selloff is causing a lot of angst in the City, and sending investors running for cover.

Terry Torrison, managing director at Monaco-based McLaren Securities, says:

“The extent of the slowdown in China is certainly a worry. Investor sentiment is very fragile at the moment.”

Andreas Clenow, hedge fund manager and chief investment officer at ACIES Asset Management, is equally alarmed:

“It’s looking pretty ugly. We’ve been scaling down equity positions. It’s time to take a step back to re-evaluate the situation.”

(via Reuters)

The Financial Times has a rather smuttier take on Marc Bolland’s time at Marks & Spencer:

Good point, boss.

Updated

Marks and Spencer is defying the global rout!

Its shares are up 1.5%, making it the only riser on the FTSE 100. The City appears to be applauding the news that Marc Bolland is retiring.

Joshua Raymond Chief Marketing Officer at XTB.com explains why:

Bolland has been under intense pressure from major shareholders for his failure to grow the business. And when you look at their recent results, its easy to understand why Bolland had to go and the tough job his replacement, Mr Rowe now finds himself in. Somewhat paradoxically, I expect shareholders to react well to the news that Bolland will now depart after months of speculation.

A drop of 5.8% in general merchandise is simply awful and at the bottom of market expectations. Whilst the firm did enjoy what it claimed was its best ever Christmas week for food sales, like for like food sales over the Q3 period grew 0.4%, which is disappointing though shows M&S fared better than some of its competitors. Overall like for like UK sales fell 2.5%.

Here’s our news story on Bolland’s exit:

The Stoxx 600, which tracks the largest 600 companies across Europe, has fallen by 2.2% this morning.

By my reckoning, that’s a three-month low:

The Stoxx 600
The Stoxx 600 over the last year. Photograph: Thomson Reuters

European markets are also being hit hard, as fears over China’s economy ripple through global bourses.

Germany’s DAX is leading the selloff, tumbling by 2.75% or 281 points to 9,932. Every share in Frankfurt is down, as investors fear that the powerhouse Eurozone economy will suffer if China’s economy hits serious trouble.

The French CAC is close behind, down 2.2%.

FTSE 100 plunges 2% in early trading

The FTSE 100 has tumbled by over 100 points at the start of trading, shedding almost 2% of its value.

The blue-chip index is being dragged down by mining stocks, but every single share is in the red. It’s down 114 points, or 1.9%, right now.

London stock market
London stock market Photograph: Thomson Reuters

The slump in China’s stock market is one obvious factor – but it’s not the only one.

FXTM Research Analyst Lukman Otunuga says investors face a serious of concerns:

Equity markets are continuing their steep losses as we enter the final part of the trading week with investor sentiment being pressured by various different factors.

This includes the resumption of fears over global growth following weak data from China in the beginning of the year, while increased geo-political tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran and an unexpected nuclear test from North Korea have also encouraged investors to dodge away from riskier assets like stocks. Another threat to investor sentiment is the persistent and continued weakness in the commodity markets, which only today saw the price of oil falling to a fresh 11 year lows of $32.70 for the first time since 2004.

Ding ding….. the European stock markets are open. Brace yourselves for a wave of selling…..

If you can’t sell shares, you may as well crack on with the knitting…..

China trading halted after shares plummet<br />epa05090894 Two stock investors knit in the brokerage house in Qingdao, Shandong province, China, 07 January 2016. Trading was halted for the day on the Shanghai and Shenzhen stock exchanges on 07 January after a steep drop in prices triggered an automatic ‘circuit breaker’ for the second time this week. Prices on the CSI 300 Index plummeted more than 7 per cent in the first 30 minutes of trading. EPA/YU FANGPING CHINA OUT” width=”1000″ height=”665″ class=”gu-image” /><br />
<figcaption> <span class=Two stock investors knitting in the brokerage house in Qingdao, Shandong province, China, today. Photograph: Yu Fangping/EPA

Oil hits 11-year low

Crude oil prices are taking another kicking, tumbling over 5% in early trading.

Brent crude has plunged below $33/barrel for the first time since 2004. It’s currently changing hands at just $32.25 per barrel, a new 11-year low.

And US crude oil has also slumped by 5%, to $32.10 per barrel.

Updated

The Chinese stock market really did suffer a precipitous decline today, triggering the circuit breaker that brought trading to a very early close:

City traders are bracing for a grim start to trading – once they’ve dried themselves (it’s wet today)

Heavy losses in Asia

Asian stock markets are a deep and grimy sea of red today, as fears over China rattle investors across the region.

  • Japan’s Nikkei fell over 2%, shedding 423 points to close at 17,767 points. It’s now down 6.65% since the start of the year.
  • The Hong Kong Hang Seng index is currently down 2.8%,
  • Australia’s S&P/ASX is down 2.2% ,
  • India’s Sensex has lost 1.9%.

Chinese regulators held an emergency meeting today to discuss the crisis — but they haven’t taken any decision on new action, Bloomberg reports.

Chinese trading halted within 30 minutes…

From Beijing, my colleague Tom Phillips sums up the dramatic action in China today:

China halted the day’s trading within 30 minutes of opening on Thursday morning as shares plunged by more than 7% – triggering an automatic “circuit breaker” – and authorities accelerated the devaluation of the Chinese yuan.

China’s recently installed “circuit breaker” mechanism paused trading for 15 minutes after the CSI300 index fell 5% in the first 13 minutes of trading. On resumption of trading it fell further, triggering the day’s halt.

The CSI300 index finished down 7.2%, the SSE composite index fell 7.3% and Shenzhen dropped by 8.3%.

Experts believe that the Chinese authorities may have to take fresh steps to prevent the rout deepening, Tom explains:

Christopher Balding, a professor of finance and economics at Peking University’s HSBC business school, said he expected more government action to halt the stock market drops, “whether it is changing the circuit breakers, whether it is again intervening in the market, whether it is extending the ban on large selling by institutions.”

“I’d be surprised if they let this continue going down. By almost any measure, the Chinese stock market is pretty over valued and so you would be looking at a pretty significant fall to get back to a reasonable valuation. I would be surprised if they allowed it to move back to more appropriate levels.”

“2016 in China is getting off on the wrong foot.”

Here’s Tom’s full story:

Introduction: China market shut again as yuan weakens further

China trading halted after shares plummet<br />epa05090899 Investors play a card game as an electronic board has halted display of stock market data at a securities brokerage house in Beijing, China, 07 January 2016. Trading was halted for the day on the Shanghai and Shenzhen stock exchanges on 07 January after a steep drop in prices triggered an automatic ‘circuit breaker’ for the second time this week. Prices on the CSI 300 Index plummeted more than 7 per cent in the first 30 minutes of trading. EPA/ROLEX DELA PENA” width=”1000″ height=”600″ class=”gu-image” /><br />
<figcaption> <span class=Investors play a card game at a brokerage house in Beijing today, after trading was halted for the day. Photograph: Rolex Dela Pena/EPA

Good morning, and welcome to our rolling coverage of the world economy, the financial markets, the eurozone and business.

There’s no escape from the China crisis. Trading in Shanghai has been suspended for the second time this week, after its stock market plunged at the start of trading.

Automatic circuit-breakers kicked in, leaving nervous investors cooling their heels, after shares in Chinese companies slumped by 7% at the start of trading.

The selloff came as the yuan weakened further against the US dollar, fuelling concerns over China’s economic situation.

From Melbourne, analyst Angus Nicholson of trading firm IG explains:

The great concern for global markets is that the dramatic pace of the currency devaluation seems to indicate a far greater weakness in the Chinese economy than is easily perceivable in its publicly released statistics.

A lot of people in the market are speculating that this is primarily about boosting exports and stimulating the slowing economy. While this no doubt will help, the primary concern for the government is deflation.

Asian markets tumbled following the developments in China, and European stocks are expected to fall heavily at the open too.

Britain’s FTSE 100 is expected to suffer a triple-digit loss:

All in all, it’s a great day for UK chancellor George Osborne is due to give a speech warning that Britain is vulnerable to problems in the global economy.

And we’ll also be digesting financial results from UK retailers Marks & Spencer and Poundland.

The big news at 7am is that M&S’s CEO Marc Bolland is stepping down, after six tricky years at the helm (statement here).

Today’s results don’t look great, frankly, with sales of general merchandise down 5% over the crucial Christmas period….

Updated

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Rolling coverage of the world’s financial markets, including disappointing results from the weak eurozone inflation report. Investors still seem nervous after Monday’s rout. Eurozone inflation gauge stubbornly stuck at just 0.2% y/y in December…

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “European markets still fragile after euro inflation gloom – business live” was written by Graeme Wearden (until 2.15) and Nick Fletcher, for theguardian.com on Tuesday 5th January 2016 15.20 UTC

Given the backdrop of disappointing Chinese data and growing tensions in the Middle East, this week’s US main economic events – the minutes of the Federal Reserve’s rate-rising meeting and Friday’s non-farm payroll figures – will be closely watched. Christopher Vecchio, currency analyst at DailyFX, said:

Weak economic data from across the globe – particularly China and the Euro-Zone – has the US dollar on stronger footing ahead of key event risk this week. Despite some alarming signs coming from the US economy (soft consumption figures, mixed housing data, and recession-level industrial production), investors and traders alike remain focused on ‘the big picture’: how fast will the Federal Reserve tighten policy this year?

With the December Federal Open Market Committee minutes due on Wednesday and the December US non-farm payrolls report due on Friday, market participants – short- or long-term in nature alike – will have a fresh look at where the Fed stands…

Minutes of the last Federal Reserve meeting due on Wednesday.
Minutes of the last Federal Reserve meeting due on Wednesday. Photograph: Richard Drew/AP

Parsing the FOMC minutes and reviewing the details of the December labor reports should help provide enough clarity for judgement to be made on “who is wrong”: either the market, currently pricing in two rates hikes for this year (via Fed funds futures); or the Fed, currently suggesting it will hike rates four times this year.

In the event that the FOMC meeting and the US non-farm payrolls prove to be supportive of the US dollar, it will likely come at the detriment of higher yielding currencies and risk-correlated assets. Any signs that the Fed could tighten policy faster than currently expected, against a backdrop of rising tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia as well as Chinese/emerging market growth concerns, would seem like a caustic mix of influences for the commodity currency bloc in particular.

US markets edge higher

Wall Street has followed other global markets in attempting to stage a rebound after Monday’s China-induced rout. But as in Europe, the rally is rather tentative.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average is up 42 points or 0.2% in early trading, while the S&P 500 has opened 0.16% better and Nasdaq is 0.3% higher.

In Europe, the FTSE 100 is currently up 0.79% while Germany’s Dax has added 0.33% and France’s Cac has climbed 0.48%.

Oil prices remain under pressure, on fears of falling demand in the wake of the poor Chinese data seen over the past few days. A stronger US dollar is not helping matters, since it makes holding dollar-denominated commodities more expensive. These factors are outweighing the growing tensions in the Middle East – especially between Saudi Arabia and Iran – which could hinder supply.

So Brent crude is currently down 1.2% at $36.77 a barrel, while WTI is nearly 1% lower at $36.40.

Accountancy group ICAEW reckons that British businesses are actually more worried about the domestic situation, rather than problems in China.

A survey of its members found that the the UK economy is the number one concern for 2016.

However, they’re less concerned about the eurozone economy, geopolitics, or the looming referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union.

Here’s the details:

  • 41% of businesses feel that the growing uncertainty around the UK’s position in the EU could have a negative impact, compared with 50% a year ago
  • Businesses are less concerned about the negative impact of low economic growth in the Eurozone than they were two years ago (44% v 56% in 2014). Although exporters are displaying the same concern than they did last year, with 60% expecting a negative impact.
  • Low UK inflation is expected to have a positive impact on over a third of companies (36%) but over half (52%) would be negatively impacted by any interest rate rise in 2016
  • Instability in the Middle East and Ukraine is much less of a concern to business with 29% of respondents expecting a negative impact (down from 41%).

Midday summary: Markets remain nervous

Time for a quick recap.

European stock markets remain fragile today, after an early attempt to rally back from Monday’s slump floundered.

The main bourses are mixed as traders snatch lunch in the City. The German and French markets are down around 0.5%, while Britain’s FTSE 100 is managing a slight recovery, up 18 point, having been 70 points higher in early trading.

European stock markets, 1pm today
European stock markets, 1pm today Photograph: Thomson Reuters

Investors are bruised following yesterday’s slump, which was the worst start to a trading year since the dot-com crash.

China remains a big worry today.

Overnight, Chinese authorities intervened to prevent another slump on the Shanghai market. State-backed authorities bought up shares, in a bid to prop up values.

This helped the Chinese market to end the day roughly where it started. However, the intervention may also shows that Beijing is worried about future problems, given its slowing economy and the build-up of bad debts since the financial crisis began.

Chris Beauchamp of IG sums up the morning:

Early optimism on the London market has faded as investors continue to fret about the situation in Chinese markets. As in August, state-directed buying of stocks is competing with individual selling of equities, but China’s latest attempt to ‘buck the market’ is likely to end as well as its efforts last year.

The butterfly effect has been felt in Europe again this morning, with an initial bounce giving way to more selling, while in London the FTSE is fighting hard to hold on to small gains.

While Mike van Dulken of Accendo Markets warns:

…the prospect of another Summer-style Chinese rout (the one which made the Fed hold off from hiking) remains a real possibility.

There is disappointment that eurozone inflation remains at just 0.2%, despite the ECB’s stimulus measures.

And there’s also drama in the City. with Sainsbury’s threatening to pounce on Home Retail, the firm behind Argos and Homebase….

….while the unusually warm weather has hurt sales at high street chain Next:

Updated

If Sainsbury takes over Home Retail, it will reunite the company with the homes-and-gardens chain Homebase after a 15-year break.

Sainsbury’s reveals rejected takeover offer for Home Retail

Big news in the City….. supermarket chain Sainsbury’s has revealed that it made a takeover approach to Home Retail (which owns Argos and Homebase).

The offer was made, and rejected, in November, Sainsbury says. It is now considering its position, and has until February 2 to make a new bid.

Rumours have been swirling for weeks that Home Retail could be a takeover target. Sainsbury’s decision to out itself as a possible bidder has send Home Retail shares soaring, up 30%.

dec05hffina
Home Retails’ share price today Photograph: Thomson Reuters

More here:

William Hobbs, head of investment strategy at Barclays Plc’s wealth-management unit in London, sums up the situation well — it’s “really messy” in the markets right now.

He told Bloomberg that investors around the globe are on edge today, and fearing trouble ahead.

“Not much is expected of the world in terms of growth, risk appetite is biased to the downside and weak data from China to the U.S. hasn’t helped at all.

Plenty of people out there believe that the next global recession is imminent.”

US stock markets are expected to post fresh losses today, when they open in three hours time.

The Dow Jones industrial average is tipped to fall by around 100 points, adding to Monday’s 276 point slide.

The euro has lost ground against the US dollar since December’s inflation figures came out. It’s down over half a cent at $1.076.

Although eurozone inflation is clearly weak, it may not be bad enough to force more stimulus out of the European Central Bank, argues Teunis Brosens of ING.

While headline inflation was stuck at 0.2%, core inflation (stripping out energy and food) was also unchanged at 0.9% in December.

Brosens says:

Hawks may argue that weak core inflation is unsurprising given the still high unemployment in many Eurozone countries. Moreover, despite this month’s weakening of core inflation, the presence of second-round effects is not yet convincing.

We think that the ECB will hold its fire for now: it will take more convincing evidence of second round effects or other really disappointing economic news to stir the ECB into further action.

And that’s why shares have fallen back this morning:

So much for the bounce-back. European stock markets couldn’t even stay in the green until London’s pubs opened for the day.

The weak eurozone inflation reading has helped to pull the major indices into the red for the second day running.

The German Dax has shed another 1%, on top of Monday’s 4% slump. The Paris CAC is down another 0.8%, and London’s FTSE 100 is off eight points.

Ipek Ozkardeskaya of City firm London Capital Group says China is still worrying investors, even though Beijing’s central bank, the People’s Bank of China, stepped in overnight to prop up its stock market.

She writes that market sentiment is “very much fragile”:

The apocalyptic Chinese story keeps the headlines busy. The intervention from the PBoC eased tensions at the heart of the storm, yet the chaotic start to 2016 warned of a challenging year ahead of us. The first trading day of the year has clearly wiped away some of the optimism and the risk-off flows dominate.

Shanghai’s Composite opened the day 3.1% lower yet managed to recover later in the session. State-controlled funds bought equities to halt the $590bn worth of sell-off suffered on Monday, and a selling ban for investors would extend beyond a week according to several sources.

Updated

The European Central Bank will be concerned that inflation remained so low last month, says Howard Archer of IHS Global Insight:

Good news for Eurozone consumers but a headache for the ECB as consumer price inflation remained down at 0.2% in December, thereby defying expectations of a small uptick.

The failure of Eurozone inflation to pick up in December is good news for consumers’ purchasing power; but it will maintain ECB concern that prolonged very low inflation could lead to a renewed weakening in inflation expectations thereby making it harder still to get Eurozone consumer price inflation up to its target rate of close to 2%.

December’s unexpectedly weak inflation report is hurting the euro.

The single currency has hit its lowest level against the yen since April 2015. One euro is now worth ¥128.03, down from ¥129.33 earlier.

Eurozone inflation weaker than expected

Breaking: inflation across the eurozone remained uncomfortably weak last month.

Prices across the single currency region rose by just 0.2% annually in December, Eurostat has just reported.

That matches November’s reading, and dashes hopes of a rise to 0.3% or 0.4%.

Cheaper energy costs are partly to blame….. but food and service price inflation did also slow last month:

Eurostat says:

Food, alcohol & tobacco is expected to have the highest annual rate in December (1.2%, compared with 1.5% in November), followed by services (1.1%, compared with 1.2% in November), non-energy industrial goods (0.5%, stable compared with November) and energy (-5.9%, compared with -7.3% in November).

Eurozone inflation

The European Central Bank is meant to maintain inflation close to, but below, 2% — but we’re a long way from that despite the ECB’s quantitative easing stimulus measures….

Updated

UK building firms post stronger growth

UK standard building brick. Image shot 05/2006. Exact date unknown.<br />AWJRH5 UK standard building brick. Image shot 05/2006. Exact date unknown.

Britain’s builders didn’t get much rest over Christmas, judging by the latest healthcheck from the sector.

Data firm Markit reports that output jumped last month, pushing its PMI index up to 57.8 in December, up from a seven-month low of 55.3. That suggests the sector grew at a faster pace last month.

jan05pminew

Markit cited “favourable demand conditions”, with builders reporting that clients were more willing to commit to new projects.

Commercial construction had a particularly good month, with growth hitting its fastest rate since October 2014.

The unusually warm weather in December may also be a factor, as Britain didn’t suffer the kind of heavy snowfalls that can scupper construction work this time of year.

Firms who can build flood defences could be busy in 2016 too, as communities across the country try to shore themselves up.

Updated

This morning’s rally is looking a little fragile, after less than 90 minutes.

European stock markets have shed much of their early gains, and are now broadly flat.

European stock markets

Invesotrs

German unemployment beats expectations

German chancellor Merkel visits China<br />30 Oct 2015, Hefei, Anhui Province, China --- German Chancellor Angela Merkel looks on under a German and a Chinese national flag as she visits the German Academy at the University of Hefei in Hefei, China, 30 October 2015. Merkel is on a two-day official visit to China. Photo: Soeren Stache/dpa --- Image by © Soeren Stache/dpa/Corbis

Here comes the latest measure of German unemployment….. and it’s better than expected.

The number of people out of work across Germany fell by 14,000 last month, on a seasonally-adjusted basis. That smashes expectations of a 6,000 drop, and shows Germany is still outperforming many neighbours.

This leaves its unemployment rate unchanged at 6.3%, compared to a eurozone average of 10.7%.

Spain has also reported that its jobless total shrank by 8% last year:

Updated

Mining stocks are leading this morning’s rally in London.

Commodity giant Glencore is up over 4%, as fears over China ease a little (for the moment….)

Top risers on the FTSE 100
Top risers on the FTSE 100 today Photograph: Thomson Reuters

Tony Cross of Trustnext Direct says traders are taking their cue from Asia:

London’s FTSE-100 has recovered some of yesterday’s losses at the open, thanks in no small part to the fact that Asian equity markets appear to have stabilised overnight – at least for now.

The vast majority of blue chips are trading in positive territory although the handful of losing stocks are being dominated by clothing retailers with that trading update from Next this morning providing little reason to get excited about the sector.

Updated

High street chain Debenhams’ shares have fallen by 2% in early trading.

That reflects concerns that Next’s weak sales over Christmas could be mirrored across the sector. Marks & Spencer are down 0.5%.

Shares in Next are out of fashion this morning.

They’re down by 3% at the start of trading, leading the FTSE fallers, as the City digests this morning’s disappointing Christmas trading.

Here’s some reaction:

Updated

Market open: European shares bounce back

Shares are rallying across Europe at the start of trading, as investors recover their nerve after Monday’s heavy selloff.

In London, the FTSE 100 has jumped by 72 points, or 1.2%, to 6165 points. That claws back almost half of yesterday’s rout, when the blue-chip index shed 148 points.

The French CAC, German DAX, Spanish IBEX and Italian FTSE MIB are all up around 1.1%.

Yesterday, the DAX slumped by over 4%, so today’s rally is only a partial recovery.

Traders are encouraged by the news that Chinese authorities took action overnight to prevent their stock market tumbling again.

Jasper Lawler, market analyst at CMC Markets, explains:

In the aftermath of a global sell-off over China growth fears, UK and European stock index futures are taking their cues from the Chinese stock market on Tuesday.

After an initial wobble, shares in Shanghai and Shenzhen turned positive on Tuesday thanks to an injection of liquidity from the People’s Bank of China.

Next blames warm weather for weak Christmas

Next results<br />File photo dated 04/12/12 of a Next Retail store, as the High Street chain blamed unseasonably warm weather for a “disappointing” performance in the run-up to Christmas as it posted a fall in store sales and sharp slowdown in its Directory business. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Tuesday January 5, 2016. The retailer said full-price sales fell 0.5% across its stores in the 60 days to December 24, while sales across its Next Directory online and catalogue arm lifted 2%. See PA story CITY Next. Photo credit should read: Paul Faith/PA Wire

High street retailer Next has sent a shiver through the sector this morning, after posting weaker than expected results for the crucial Christmas period.

Full price sales rose by just +0.4% from 26 October to 24 December. That’s a serious slowdown, as Next sales grew by 6% between July and September.

And as Next is the first major European retailer to report Christmas trading figures, this may mean more trouble ahead…

Next pinned much of the blame on the unusually warm weather this autumn. This is a classic excuse for British retailers, who can often point to the skies to explain away a poor performance.

But to give Next credit, it also released a graph showing how sales did indeed shrink in weeks where the temperature was hotter than in 2014:

Next sales

And the weather isn’t the only culprit. The firm also admits that its catalogue shopping arm, NEXT Directory’s, suffered poor stock availability from October onward.

Updated

Spread-betting firm IG is predicting that European markets will bounce back when trading begins in a few minutes, clawing back some of Monday’s losses.

IG is calling the main markets up around 1%:

Chinese authorities intervene to prop up markets

Chinese shares make modest gains after Monday rout<br />epa05088128 Chinese investors look at a screen showing stock movements at a stock brokerage house in Beijing, China, 05 January 2016. Shares in China made modest gains 05 January morning, the day after a plunge in the market triggered a halt to trading. The CSI 300 Index was up 0.79 per cent when the market shut for its lunch break. The index comprises 300 shares from the biggest companies on the Shanghai and Shenzhen exchanges. EPA/HOW HWEE YOUNG
Chinese investors look at a screen showing stock movements at a stock brokerage house in Beijing. Photograph: How Hwee Young/EPA

It’s been a wild day in China, as Beijing tries to prevent a repeat of Monday’s rout.

Chinese authorities intervened in the markets today, buying up stocks to give investors confidence.

And it appears to have worked. The Shanghai composite index has closed for the day, down just 0.28%, having shed 3% at one stage today.

That’s rather better than Monday’s 7% slump, which forced trading to be halted.

That doesn’t address the underlying problems in China, such as the build-up of bad debts and its slowing economy. And it suggests Beijing isn’t prepared to allow market forces to take their natural course….

Updated

Introduction: Markets could stabilise after Monday’s rout

Good morning, and welcome to our rolling coverage of the world economy, the financial markets, the eurozone and business.

It’s day two of the trading year, and investors around the globe will be hoping for a better performance than on day one.

There’s a nervous air in the markets today, after yesterday’s selloff wiped hundreds of billions of dollars off bourses worldwide. Britain’s FTSE 100 lost £38bn in a blink of an eye:

But unlike vanishing candyfloss, market value can reappear.

And European stock markets are expected to recover some ground today. But it could be another volatile session, with concerns over China’s economy looming over markets.

Also on the agenda today, we get the first estimate of eurozone inflation for December. Economists predict it will rise to an annual rate of 0.4%, from 0.2% in November.

We also get the latest German unemployment data for December, and an estimate of how UK builders fared last month.

  • 8.55am GMT: German unemployment report
  • 9.30am GMT: UK construction PMI
  • 10am: Eurozone inflation for December

And high street retailer Next is reporting its financial results for the last quarter. That will give us an insight into how the crucial Christmas trading season went…..

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